Long-tailed Duck: SB Wildlife Care Network's Patient of the Week
Source: Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network
Patient #119 of this year: Long-tailed Duck (rare patient!)
Status: Still in Care
On January 23rd, this Long-tailed Duck was brought to SB Wildlife Care Network from the Santa Barbara Harbor with a keel injury. This is a rare species at SBWCN - with this being the only Long-tailed Duck to have come into care on record! Once the duck arrived at the Wildlife Care Center, our expert team found an extensive, deep lesion on his keel as well as a leg laceration. Staff administered fluids, antibiotics, and pain-relievers until the veterinary team could perform surgery to clean and close the wounds. After a successful surgery, he is now in recovery, rebuilding strength and waterproofing his feathers to return back to the wild.
Long-tailed Ducks are expert divers, reaching up to 200 ft to forage for small fish and invertebrates. To the Santa Barbara area, they are a rare visitor. Usually, they reside in the Arctic Circle of Northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland and migrate only as far south as Southern Canada and the Northeastern United States. So what would a Long-tailed Duck be doing in sunny California? Impacts of climate change are an increasing concern for these ducks and their habitat may be shifting as a result. The Long-tailed Duck population is currently in a steep decline and they are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. If they continue declining, they may move to being listed as an endangered species. Contributing factors to the Long-tailed Duck population decline include changes in ocean conditions due to climate change, habitat shifting and degradation, overfishing and food availability, direct hunting, fossil fuel production, pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and lead exposure.
Rehabilitation of wildlife is exhausting, strenuous work, but we are motivated everyday to see patients like #119 improve to be returned back to the wild. The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network has cared for 140 patients since the start of this year, a 33% increase from this time last year. 65 of them are still receiving care at the Wildlife Care Center. You can help animals like this Long-tailed Duck get their second chance at a wild life by going to www.sbwcn.org/donate.