Trauma, Ducks, and Life Lessons

Day 301 of 365

I finally admitted to myself recently that our sweet little duck, Anna Maria, is at least fairly blind, possibly quite blind. It breaks my heart to see this sweet duck struggling some.

We adopted Anna Maria in 2019 and rehabilitated her after she had been over-mated at another farm where they had too many males in a straight run. Anna Maria had a tough time, but she made an amazing recovery and lives a very spoiled duck life now. But we noticed this summer that it seemed like she couldn’t see the wheat bread we often feed the ducks as a snack. It’s whole grain, and they love it. Anna Maria loved it the most. Just last year, she would quack and quack at Ron to get him to bring her treats. He always did.

But, in the fall, we kept testing and testing and putting the bread right in front of her, and it seemed like it was only with luck that she found a bite. She just seemed like she couldn’t see it.

Then, this winter, I noticed she was having trouble seeing the bowl of peas every night at bedtime. I had to start moving the bowl to her, as she struggled to come to the bowl. This was a worry.

I told Ron that maybe her sight wasn’t that bad though. “I haven’t seen her walk into a door or anything,” I said.

Last week, I saw the poor girl walk into the duck house door.

It makes me feel so badly for her that, after all she has gone through, that she has to deal with blindness in her life. Thankfully, she seems to handle it well. She is a part of the collective that is made up of our seven Indian Runner Ducks. They moved together as one most of the time, so she can just stick with them. Still, you worry.

I am going to post this week to a good Maine poultry group and ask if anyone has an advice for making sure life is good for a blind duck. I want to do everything we can for her.

I told Ron one of the most profound things about all of it for me is that poor Anna Maria has to continue to suffer the consequences of her trauma, even so many years later. I researched, and her blindness is most likely connected to her over-mating experience when she was young because over-mating in ducks damages the sinuses and the optic nerves.

“Isn’t that just the way of it?” I asked him. “Trauma impacts us all of our lives.”

He nodded in sadness.

The only upside is this: Because I didn’t raise her as a baby and because I had to doctor her far more than she wanted when she was healing, she has always acted afraid of me, though I tried and tried to make her trust me. She became pretty good friends with Ron, but I could never be trusted. I could never pet her like I could the other ducks, and it made me sad.

But since she can’t see very well, at night, when the ducks are busy eating peas, I carefully give her a pet or two.

She’s magnificent.

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