It’s not usually in the job description: Rub-a-dub-dub, shelter three ducklings in your tub.
But late last month, a fish and wildlife officer in northern Alberta did just that after responding to a call about a brood of Bufflehead ducklings wandering around helplessly outside a local hotel bar in Hinton.
According to Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement, the parents were no where to be found. (No, not even in the bar.)
“It is not unheard of for mother ducks to fly away and abandon her ducklings, particularly if they are stressed or panic if they are in a bad location,” wildlife officers explained in a Facebook post last week.
Instead, the trio of ducklings were scooped up and spent the night in the officer’s bathtub.
At first it was cute.
“The ducklings spent the night pooping, nesting and swimming in the bathtub while eating live meal worms,” the province explained. “Upon waking up, the officer’s bathroom reeked as if there had been a hundred hamsters in there.”
They do make a mess.
Then, the officer got to work finding a “suitable duck family to adopt the ducklings.”
It really can work if a similar age class of ducklings is found.
At first, the hunt seemed fruitless and a rescue facility seemed inevitable.
Then, swimming in sawdust pond was by a local pulp mill — just a kilometre away from where the ducklings were abandoned — were two adult Buffleheads swimming around.
And so, the ducklings were plopped in the water.
They headed straight for the “chattering” pair of adults.
“The ducklings were almost on top of them before they broke their attention from each other,” the province continued. “It was clear that this little family was where they belonged.”
It was meant to be.
“The chances of finding the actual parents of abandoned ducks is very slim,” wildlife officers added.
Given the happy ending, they couldn’t help but joke.
“It is undetermined if the experience of raising their ducklings led them down to the hotel bar for some relief or if there was a misunderstanding of what was meant by ‘local watering hole,'” they added. “Upon driving off, the officer was left wondering if the ducks would miss their short-lived peace and quiet.”
By the way, if you think a young animal has been orphaned or abandoned, don’t pick it up. Mothers often leave their young for a while in search of food.
But if wildlife has been left alone for at least 24 hours, then make sure you call a local fish and wildlife office for help.