The it's time! Miracle Ducklings!
On May 13th, 2018 – Mother’s Day – it’s time! Fitness Results welcomed a generation of mallard ducklings into the world. How and why, you ask, would a small local gym choose to become “mother” to wild ducklings? Read on to find out…
In early April, staff and clients noticed a female duck hanging around the green patch outside the gym doors. Within a few days we were surprised to discover that our duck had made a nest and laid eggs! To choose such a location she must have been a fitness enthusiast like ourselves. Our clients became enamoured with this duck and her eggs, bringing her food and checking on her before their sessions. She became part of the fitness family!
Unfortunately, on the morning of May 8th, tragedy struck. During her routine “duck check”, strength coach Briana Kelly came upon a terrible scene. Our mother duck had met a tragic fate and so had her nest. Upon further investigation, we discovered 4 eggs had survived the ordeal – but what were we to do? Calls to several wildlife help lines told us there was nothing they could do, as no one was able to take our eggs. We didn’t know how long they had been exposed, so the chance of survival was slim! A huge decision had to be made.
Being in the business of health and wellbeing, we decided to try our best to save the ducks. We brought the eggs into the gym and put them in a makeshift nest with a heated blanket for warmth. Admittedly a few of the staff, including owner Sheila Hamilton and Operations Manager Dave Ewart, were feeling doubtful about this endeavour but went along with having the eggs join the weekly staff meeting.
Not knowing a whole lot about fostering duck eggs besides their needing warmth, the it’s time! team took to the internet and other resources to figure out what to do to help these motherless eggs. It turned out looking after eggs was no small task. They required a cosy protective environment at a balmy heat of 37 degrees. They also had to be turned every 5 hours!! Just in case the eggs came in the middle of the night, Briana and trainer Christina Carrick took turns bringing the eggs home.
Initially we were unsure whether the eggs were alive, but we discovered a technique known as “candling” (where you illuminate the egg with a flashlight to see inside). We not only determined that our ducklings were alive and kicking but that the eggs were 23 days old, meaning that they had another week or so before they hatched. We used this process to check on them twice a day.
It wasn’t just the staff at the gym that became invested in saving these poor ducklings but also our clients. Long time it’s time! client and animal lover Joyce was instrumental in researching the best home for our babies. Other clients brought their children in to see the eggs. They became the stars of the gym, distracting everyone from their exercise routines!
Over the next few days, we watched our eggs closely for any signs of hatching. Five days after we found them we noticed cracks on one of the eggs. Putting the egg to your ear you could hear movement and peeping! How exciting! The other eggs followed suit and over the next 36 hours they painstakingly pecked their way out of their eggs.
On Mother’s Day, we welcomed 3 out of the 4 ducklings into the world. Healthy, fluffy, happy ducklings! First was Bill, then came KettleBill and finally BarBill. The final egg took his/her time to hatch and arrived Monday afternoon. We named him DumbBill, because he needed a little extra time than his brothers and sisters – and he liked to keep pushing his head back into the eggshell! With all the Bills happy and healthy it was time to bring them to their new home, although saying goodbye proved harder than we thought. Trainer Andrea Brennan was brought to tears by final farewell.
The it’s time! Bills were received by the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC on Monday May 14th, courtesy of our client Ian, who became the delivery man for our precious cargo. Our ducks were not alone as they arrived with 7 other orphaned ducklings that day. The volunteers there were thrilled to meet our ducklings and commended us on how well they looked. Unfortunately, at this time of year, farms and rescue organizations are inundated with ducklings and other young birds in need of care. The Wildlife Rescue, where our gym ducks will make their new lives, relies on volunteers and donations.
It costs $250 per animal to rescue. We want to give our ducks and others like them the best possible chance to lead long healthy lives, that way they can come back to visit us at the gym!! As a result we are encouraging donations to Wildlife Rescue (https://www.wildliferescue.ca/give/) We will also be selling our new Duck T-shirts that were designed by client Grainne to support this cause! Our goal is to raise $1,000. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
We want to share this story with as many people as possible with the hopes of inspiring people to take care of our wildlife. Do not be afraid to take action because the results can be tremendously rewarding!
Sam Smith of media relations with the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. states, “The chicks would not have had a chance without your intervention. They are now in the hands of experts that will ensure they have no imprint from humans before their release.”
Special thanks to Grainne Downey a Vancouver-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator for our T-shirt design.
Follow our hashtag #bestduckingym on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with our progress!
Written by: Andrea Brennan with input from the whole nest!