Birds flying into windows and other urban inventions are some of the common hazards of man and nature co-existing in the city, but sometimes they can work wonders together. When a bystander at Broomfield Park in Palmers Green, saw a female duck fly into a wire fence and slice the full length of her bill down to the bone, she rushed to the aid of the unfortunate animal, scooping her up carefully to get help from the veterinary practice opposite the park – Village Vet.
The mallard was quite shocked and veterinarian, Dr Crina Dragu, had been asked to put the duck to sleep even before she saw the unfortunate creature. But although the damage was bad, Crina felt sure she could repair the wound through surgery, using tissue glue to set the bill back in place. She called the Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) in Trent Park for a second opinion and Barry Smitherman, founder and chairman of WRAS, agreed that it was worth trying.
After administering pain relief to the poor duck, Crina decided to take the animal to Village Vet's nearby Southgate branch, where a full operating suite and recovery unit was available. Fortuitously, her off-duty colleague, veterinary nurse Clare Green, happened to drive by as she set off, and stopped to help Crina. Carefully, the duck was anaesthetised, its wound explored and cleaned and the bill was pieced back together. Afterwards, the weary duck was given a comfy bed for the night in one of the facility's kennels.
The following morning, Crina popped into the surgery on her way to Palmers Green to check on her patient and was astonished to see that not only was she doing well – the bill was holding nicely – but she had also laid a large egg! Cheered by this unexpected turn of events, Crina called Barry at WRAS, who came later that day to take the duck to the WRAS rehabilitation centre in Trent Park. The plucky mallard is doing well and the plan is to return her to Bloomfield Park, an historic conservation area, when she recovers sufficiently.
Sadly, her surprise egg didn’t make it. Ducks don’t normally sit on eggs until the full batch is laid – so this may have been the first or last of a batch or, perhaps more likely, the trauma may have thrown nature off course. But Village Vet and WRAS have high hopes that she will live to lay another lot soon.