After several weeks of treatment, Paul, a male ruddy duck, was given a clean bill of health and clearance to be returned to the wild. He was alert and even a little snappy as he had his stitches removed.
Urban Park Ranger Officer Kerr brought Paul to the Wild Bird Fund after receiving a call that the little ruddy duck was in a shoebox outside of a building at West 81st and Central Park West – not in Central Park, where he was supposed to be. Upon the initial exam, it was determined that Paul had been attacked by a dog. Paul sustained deep puncture wounds at the base of his tail, which were sutured and treated with antibiotics.
Since arriving at the Wild Bird Fund, Paul gained weight, his wounds healed, and he grew strong enough to rejoin his fellow ruddy ducks. Paul’s a winter markings are slowing transforming into his breeding colors: his black bill is freckled with blue spots, while his brown coat is showing the emergence of cinnamon-colored feathers.
With the ruddy duck’s usual location frozen over in Central Park, we faced a new challenge: Where to release Paul? Wild Bird Fund worked with eBird.org and the Urban Park Rangers to locate a flock of ruddy ducks, and on Jan. 26, 2011, Paul joined a flock of ruddy ducks at Marine Park at Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn. Officer Kerr arranged the release.
About the Ruddy Duck
- Males have a cinnamon body and blue bill during breeding season, and a grayish-brown body and black bill in the winter.
- Ruddy ducks are known for their stiff, upright tails and chubby little bodies.
- Females resemble winter males except for a brown stripe on their cheeks.
- Ruddy ducks are migratory and prefer marshy ponds, lakes and bays.
- Ruddy ducks are diving ducks; they spend most of their time in the water and can dive deeply and swim underwater to feed.