Sunday, September 29, 2013


June 1997 started off rather dramatically.
One day something terrible happened. While I was shopping in the nearest big city, as usual - my hubby went with Pipke to the meadow to look for earthworms.

He encountered there our neighbor who was working in his vegetable garden near the meadow, and as always they both began to chat.
My hubby had the fork in his hands and - of course Pipke was eager to search for earthworms. While they both were chatting my husband planted the fork into the soil to enforce the earthworms to come up to the surface. Transfixed in the conversation, my hubby didn't pay attention to Pipke, when suddenly – she came much too close to the fork and so he injured her – he perforated her beak by accident!

She cried out (in her case quacked out) from pain, and ran away. My hubby was shocked, how could he be so unwise to pay no attention on her.
He ran after her and he lifted her up. He saw that her beak was now whole covered with blood. He tried to stanch the bleeding by pressing on the wound but; without success. So he ran very fast back home - while she ran after him.
Whatever he tried to do - he couldn't succeed to stop the bleeding
Pipke needed help as fast as possible
He had to go to a vet with her – this wasn't looking good – but he had “no” car to bring her over there – I was in town with it.
Then there was also the problem that, at that time we had not yet a cell phone .
He knew that, when I went to town, I always lunched in the same lunchroom, so he called the lunchroom. He described my appearance to the waitress who answered the phone.
From the moment that the waitress saw me sitting at the table she recognized me and so she came to my table and asked my name. When I confirmed that I was Fran she asked me to phone my husband as soon as possible. The fact that my husband called the lunchroom made ​​me really very worried. Therefor I phoned him immediately.
I was shocked when I heard what had happened. I took my coat and as fast as
I could I ran to the car. I didn't know how bad her situation was but while I drove back home – I imagined the predicament! 
What if it was so serious that it would not heal! What if it was impossible to restore her beak. The worst scenario went through my head: “Pipke missing a part of her beak”. Don't let that be true!
Would she survive with such an injury.
Where could we find a vet who knows how to handle a duck. A duck isn't a normal visitor to a vet practice. Usually they are more skilled in treating small pets as cats and dogs.
One thing I know for sure, I never drove faster back home! I still can't understand that I got no speeding ticket.
Meanwhile my husband had already phoned a vet who lived in our neighborhood. We could bring in Pipke as soon as we could.

Of course, when I came home also I was shocked when I saw Pipke.
All over her body - her feathers were covered with blood and her beak was still bleeding a little and that after already a few hours. I rinsed her beak with cold water and inspected the wound. There was a thick part of the skin hanging loose, but I couldn't see how deep the wound was because she refused to open her beak and I didn't want to force her because she was already traumatized. I really hoped that her beak wasn't totally perforated.
Thereafter we drove immediately to the vet (not the one who treated Pipke later in her life) but actually she (a female vet) didn't know what to do with her: “birds were not her specialty”. She couldn't tell us what to do.
So we went back home, in fact – without a treatment and hoping that the bleeding would stanch by itself, and luckily that happened.
The day after, we rinsed her wound with fresh water as much as we could (to avoid that it would inflame) and for the rest of the day we kept her indoors. 
She slept the whole time in her plastic dogs bed/nest .
She really seemed exhausted from the blood loss.
It took some time but - luckily the wound healed well.
Since that happened, Pipke had a black scar at the top of her beak, and even now my hubby still feels guilty about this, but I always told him that it could have been much worse.
Luckily her beak was not perforated “whole through”, that would have been a real disaster. Although - there exist ducks who survived with a missing part of their beak but that was only possible because of the intervention of humans.
Once we saw an animal program on TV about a duck. She had had an accident, and now she missed a big piece of her beak. In this case the vets had to “invent” a whole new piece. It was really a miracle that they succeeded. They made a beak prosthesis for her and she survived this ordeal thanks to the vets. Without a beak she would have died from starvation, it wouldn't have been possible to eat.

July 1997
Well recovered and taking a nap in the shade

Although we were extra careful since the incident, sometimes accidents happened when she was working with us in the garden. Sometimes – the broom fell on her – or we touched her with the rake. She was always sitting far too close to us – and yes – it did happen to both of us that we stepped on her tiny paws and once it was very serious, so serious - that she couldn't stand on her paw for a few days. 
Oh – we were really worried then. We both cursed ourselves for days!
Luckily, she was still young when that happened and she recovered well, although later in her life, her little paws would become her weak point.

She would be there to assist us with gardening for the rest of her life.
This dramatic event eventually ended better than feared.
With this happy ending I'm going to close this post.
Next time we will go further with the chapter:
Little Critters Great and Small.

Bye bye!

Hope to see you again.


  1. How very alarming to have such an accident happen! It is amazing that a vet would not know what to do for the beak of a bird, but I suppose if the vet had left school many many years ago and not ever had to deal with birds, it would be quite unusual to do so. Where I live there is a very large veterinary university, so of course there are clinics and many vets, too. Still, when my daughter found a baby squirrel who was starving, we had to find someone (at the clinic) who cared for squirrels privately, as the vet-clinic itself was not "set up" for squirels. -Terrry

  2. You must know Terry, you can't believe how much luck we had! The practice of the vet which we later found is situated only a few km away from our house. (Not yet a ride of five minutes by car). That vet is one of the best bird specialists here in Belgium. He gives lectures and goes to conventions all over the world to keep up with the newest evolution in the field of bird medicine. I'm still in contact with him. He told me lately that he often talks about Pipke when he gives meetings.
    He shows there Pipke's *pictures (I will show *those later in the story) and describes the bond we had, and how well we cared for her He called it: exceptional love for animals.
    Actually very obvious. Pipke was also EXEPTIONAL!
    About squirrels. Here not so far from where I live is an animal shelter. They take care for all kind of wounded or orphaned animals. They often have to treat squirrels. They are so sweet and so beautiful. The kind that lives here in Belgium has such a beautiful autumn colors.
    When the sun shines on them - their intense red/brown color really can be overwhelming.
    I often see them when I run. That makes my day!
    Thanks for your comment!:)