Many of the ducks who live near the Safe Haven pond flew from a nearby shooting range after being released from dark boxes to be shot at by humans with guns. Of course, after being held in dark boxes while being transported to the shooting range, the ducks are dazed and confused when they are released. They fly up into the air and many are killed for sport; a few of them make it to the safety of Safe Haven.
Other ducks come to Safe Haven from people who purchase furry birds around Easter for their children. As the ducks grow, the purchasers find they can no longer care for the ducks and their children lose interest.
Adult ducks are fast flyers and, while flying, are able to escape from most predators (except from humans with guns). However, a duck floating or resting on land cannot move very quickly – so we have the phrase “sitting duck” to mean an easy target. Ducklings are especially vulnerable because they cannot fly and are often killed by wild animals. Safe Haven has recently added man-made islands in the middle of the pond to protect ducklings from local badgers and other creatures.
Ducks are raised in crowded cages on factory farms for meat and killed in unbelievably cruel ways. Many are force fed through metal tubes jammed down their throats until their livers become huge with fat. The ducks are killed and their livers ground up to make fois gras, a so-called delicacy that humans choose to eat without concern for the animals from which it is made. Other wild type ducks, like mallards, are often raised on factory farms, unable to learn how to live in the wild, and then shipped to gun clubs where they are released to be shot by hunters hiding nearby in duck blinds.
These three ducks joined the Safe Haven family in 2011. Two are handsome mallards who probably escaped with a bunch of pals from a gun club over the hill. If the weather had been better, they might have made it on their own, but being raised in crowded conditions on unnatural food instead of having a chance to learn from their parents how to forage and protect themselves, they didn’t have much chance. One took refuge in a culvert nearby and was rescued by a compassionate neighbor. The other was found under the body of a truck in a nearby driveway sheltering himself from the snow. A third duck was handed over by someone who raised ducks to be herded by young sheep dogs buffing up their skills.
Our three ducks eagerly greet each other and explore their winter home, a large indoor space with clean warm straw and a few small discarded Christmas trees to play behind. In the spring, they move to quarters with access to the outdoors and a swimming pool.
These ducks serve as ambassadors for the millions who suffer and die too soon and hopefully will turn the hearts and minds of those who meet them.
Muscovies are often referred to as the “quiet” or “quackless” duck. The males vocalize with a “hissing” sound while the females make a sound called a “pip” which is similar to the sound of a flute. Muscovies have a “crest” on the top of their heads that they use to express themselves. The males often raise their crest during mating season to fend off other males and show dominance. The crest is also raised to impress and attract the female. Muscovies use body language to communicate. They will wag their tails and raise and lowering their heads at one another.
EJ was found in a family’s swimming pool one fine morning, just splashing around. The family call Wildlife Control, who took EJ from the pool. However, because of EJ’s clipped beak and white feathers, Wildlife Control knew EJ was a domestic duck destined for the slaughter house.
Safe Haven agreed to provide a forever home for EJ and he has been enjoying life ever since. He even comes to Ellen when called by name!