Going the Distance to Save a White-Winged Scoter
One day in early Dec. 2015, a white-winged scoter sat still and alone on the platform of OPG’s northern Abitibi Canyon GS. Darryl Demers, a mechanical tech from the Rock Falls work station, noticed its unusual behaviour and approached it to find the duck immobile and lethargic, yet very much alive. Darryl and his supervisor Doug Chalklin contained the duck and called the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) for assistance.
The emergency hotline staff working at Toronto Wildlife Centre (TWC) were certainly surprised to receive a call from the OMNR about a duck so far north – a 10-hour drive from the wildlife centre. They provided temporary care instructions and planned for its journey; OPG’s trades representative Jean Archibald transported the scoter to the OMNR office in Cochrane and from there a representative from the OMNR made the long drive to get the scoter the help it so desperately needed.
Upon arrival, the scoter was rushed to the assessment room where it was examined by TWC’s expert medical team. Severely dehydrated, and suffering a fracture to its upper beak, the duck was in poor condition and
would have surely succumbed to its ailments had it not been found by an empathetic OPG employee.
Medical staff provided a variety of therapies including pain management medications, fluids for rehydration and supplemental feeding in order for it to regain its strength.
After a week in care, the patient was lively and healthy once again. Volunteer bird-watchers had already been keeping an eye out for other migrating scoters in the area; luckily, many were spotted at Colonel Sam Smith Park on Lake Ontario in the west end of Toronto. Not wanting to miss the window of opportunity, or keep the scoter in captivity longer than absolutely necessary, TWC Rescue staff released the bird back to the wild, to live among its kind once again.
It takes a village, as they say, and this duck is healthy and free thanks to the combined efforts of the OMNR, TWC and OPG!