Yesterday I shared the posts below on my personal Facebook page, but I wanted to share it here too as this story of a little grieving duck demonstrates that animals have feelings and emotional lives beyond what many give them credit for:
On Tuesday morning when I was driving David to the station I saw a recently killed wild female duck in the middle of a busy road. Her mate was fretting, pacing up and down at the side of the road and quacking. I was sure he would try and get to her and be hit by a car himself.
I pulled up and moved her body to a grass verge on a quieter side road where the male duck could see her without being hit.
I laid her on the grass and as soon as I left her he came waddling over and walked around her in circles, quacking. He tried pulling at her feathers as if trying to get her up.
It was so sad. I left him there with his mate.
It has now been 2 full days and 2 nights. I have driven past to collect David from the station and to take him to the station each day and the male duck has been there every time. Last night as we drove past in the twilight we saw him standing facing her and quacking as if saying, "Come on, we need to find somewhere safe to sleep", but even though his instinct would be to find a sheltered place, he didn't leave her.
This morning he is still sitting next to his dead mate. It is heart breaking.
Does anyone have any ideas on how to help this little man? Should I take him some water and food or will that encourage him to stay longer? Should I bury the body of his mate? Or will that stress him out further? Should I just leave them? I don't know what to do.
I called Sugarloaf vet who referred me to Hunter Native Animal Trust. They advised me that I must bury her. They said he will not leave her side whilst she is there as he will think she is sleeping or nesting. God, I feel awful for him, but at least I know what to do. I am going to go and get her now, wrap her in a towel and bury her. They said I didn't need to do it in front of him. Then I will go and check on him in a few hours.
So now the little lady duck is buried in my garden. I went to get her and sure enough her mate was by her side. He moved away when I approached as he was scared of me. I had to be careful that he did not walk towards the road. I wrapped her in a sheet and put her in the car. Then I put a bowl of water and a bowl of duck feed near his spot. I saw there was some bread there. I know you are not meant to feed ducks bread, but it made me happy to think someone else cared about this duck.
I know he will be stressed out that she is gone, but hopefully after some time and something to eat and drink he may waddle on. I will check on him later today.
I could not see him tonight, so if he is still around the area it seems he has found himself a sheltered spot
This morning the male duck was back standing in the spot where his mate had been laying the day before.