First oil spill-related bird arrives at state wildlife center

PELHAM, AL - A baby Black-bellied Whistling-Duck was discovered trapped in a boom storage area in Pascagoula, Mississippi near the Gulf Coast.

Separated from its parents and far from being developed enough to survive on its own, it was rescued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and transported to the oiled wildlife rehabilitation facility in Theodore, Alabama.

Because that facility is under contract with BP to focus solely on cleaning and rehabilitating oiled wildlife, they asked the Alabama Wildlife Center to take charge of the orphaned duckling.

AWC's Raptor Coordinator, Jessie Griswold, just happened to be spending Monday and Tuesday, her days off, volunteering at the facility in Theodore. She transported the duckling to AWC's facility located in Oak Mountain State Park.

Upon its arrival at AWC a complete examination was performed. The duckling weighed in at 22 grams and is estimated to be three to five days old. No injuries were detected. The orphan was clearly scared, dehydrated and hungry. It was hand fed, hydrated and given some swim time in a blue plastic dish pan "pool," which perked up the little baby considerably. After being returned to its incubator it immediately hid under the "Mommy," a feather duster provided for ducklings to give them a sense of comfort and security.

Its condition is now described as stable but guarded. AWC will care for and raise the baby duck until it is able to survive on its own in the wild.

AWC Executive Director Beth Bloomfield says, "This is the first time AWC has cared for a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. It's a species that's only found in southwestern states and the southernmost parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and some parts of Florida. The duckling will be with us for about two months, after which we will find a suitable release site far from areas impacted by the oil spill."

Community members are needed to help with the care and feeding of this orphaned duckling. Financial donations can be made online at, and baby duck food donations of millet sprays, wild bird seed, poultry feed, small mealworms and crickets, as well as green leaf lettuce (please, no iceberg or romaine) can be delivered to AWC at 100 Terrace Drive in Pelham, located in Oak Mountain State Park seven days a week from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

A full wish list of items needed for baby bird care can also be downloaded on the organization's website.