By Good News Network -Jun 2023
A couple who hand-reared a one-day-old duckling before releasing her back to the wild were left stunned when she returned to their home six months—and brought a few family members.
Phil Garner took the tiny mallard under his wing after finding her abandoned on a fishing lake, before bringing her back to his wife Julia, snuggled in his coat pocket.
The 67-year-old said the duckling, they named Freda, became partially potty-trained using towels after she came to live in their three-bed house in Leeds, England. The couple even took turns sleeping near the “demanding” bird’s bed.
Julia said her husband of 16 years was undergoing agonizing treatment for cancer when he first found Freda. She now considers the duck to be like a “guardian angel” as he was able to focus his energy on caring for her during that difficult time.
“I wasn’t keen on my home becoming a duck sanctuary at first, but I think she was sent for a purpose… Freda helped him through it.”
They had tried for hours to find the ducking’s parents before being told by a fishery manager that she would perish if left in the wild.
“It was freezing cold that day and there was no sign of the mum, so we brought her home and then thought, ‘What do you do with a day-old duckling?’
They let Freda roam around their living room, kitchen, and garden—and allowed her to swim in a pond they’d created for goldfish. It wasn’t long before she formed a bond with her rescuers.
“She’d either sleep in a box, by your feet, or under the coffee table,” said Phil. “But one of us had to sleep downstairs otherwise she started screeching and crying.
“She would sit on my shoulder and on my table while I was doing my computer work. She was that loving.”
They fed her with a diet of grubs (bought in the pet shop), until she flew the nest last October, after spending a few weeks “screeching” at other ducks she could hear on a local lake.
“It was a bit sad when Freda first went, but at the same time, it was a bit of a relief because she was hard work.”
A few months later, however, they were amazed when she came waddling up to their doorstep in April with a new boyfriend—and their newly hatched brood of ducklings which have taken up residence in their garden once again.
In the back of his mind, Phil was expecting her to come back after being told that they “imprint on you, for life.”
“But going from one duckling to 11 was chaos,” exclaimed Phil. “It was like, ‘What do you do with this lot?’ They’re now eight inches long and as fat as butter—fluffy, very fluffy.
“They need to swim, they need to wash themselves. So we’ve got tubs everywhere. The garden looks like a mess, but I’m not bothered.
“We allow them in the fish pond in the front garden, but we’ve dug a separate pond in the back and feed them on cornmeal, worms and Weetabix.
“You’ll hear them going ‘cheep, cheep’ when they want to eat or if the mother disappears, but they’re pretty quiet.”
Phil expects the love birds—Freda and Fred—to stay with them for a few more months but is prepared to re-home them on a nearby pond if they don’t go back into the wild.
“We expect her to fly off and go back to where she was before, and the ducklings will just follow her and do their own thing.
“If not, there’s a good local fishing pond near us that’s got a fence all the way around it.
Photos Of The Couple And Ducklings HERE