It’s been a couple of years, but this cold and snowy winter has fowled things up for a cluster of ducks in Chatham.
The ducks have wintered along Mud Creek, but the cold weather has left only a little open water for them, and has obliterated their food supply, according to local animal lover Carmen McCauley.
The woman has taken to feeding the ducks bags of split and cracked corn – 25 kilograms at a time.
Despite the large size of the bag, the corn is devoured in minutes by all the hungry ducks.
McCauley encountered a similar problem several years ago, during another particularly cold winter.
She took it upon herself then to feed the ducks, and reached out at that time for help from other bird lovers, just as she’s doing now.
“Last year, it wasn’t bad because nothing froze over,” she said of the mild winter a year ago. “This year, it’s been cold. I’ve been going over there on my own and dragging a 55-pound bag of corn there every day.”
McCauley uses a child’s snow saucer to help get the corn from her car parked on Tweedsmuir Avenue to the ducks about 100 yards away. She places the bag on the saucer and pulls it over the snow to her feeding location. There, she cuts one end of the bag open and spreads the corn out in a line to allow easy access for the multitude of ducks on hand.
McCauley said the public stepped up big time two years ago to feed the fowl, and she hopes to see similar support this time around.
Last time, she received support in terms of donations of corn, as well as donations of time. As a result, she was able to co-ordinate and set up a schedule for volunteers to go out and feed the ducks.
“We put together a pretty good plan last time. Some people would buy the corn and others would help deliver it,” she said.
In fact, the outpouring of support was so strong that at times there was already a pile of feed on site when volunteers got there, as random donors dropped off feed of their own.
This time around, McCauley said she’s had help from several local citizens to purchase the feed, but the birds need more.
McCauley is worried if a co-ordinated effort isn’t undertaken, a good number of the birds will starve to death before spring arrives.
“We’ve got to get them through the whole winter that way. I have to feed them up until there is green grass growing,” she said.
McCauley knows this isn’t the only place ducks have clustered in Chatham over the winter. She said she’s aware of several points along the Thames River where drainage into the river creates open water points, and the ducks gather there as well.
She encourages residents who live near the water to take a look to see if there are ducks in need of feeding.
As for the Mud Creek ducks, McCauley said she isn’t asking for much.
“Corn donations and a couple of volunteers would be great. I was Corn Central last time. They were dropping it off at my home and I was delivering to people as they volunteered,” she said.
McCauley said she gets her corn – and she stressed it needs to be cracked corn or cut corn – from TSC on St. Clair Street.
To help out in any way, contact McCauley at email@example.com.
McCauley said she hopes the support comes soon.
“I can’t sleep at night knowing they’re all sitting around quacking quietly, starving to death.”