Lucky duck owners have found a rare pet that has attracted birdwatchers to Harlingen
HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — For a few weeks, a rare mandarin duck has been attracting flocks of people to Pendleton Park.
Colorful and splashy, it waddled, swam and preened in front of birdwatchers and photographers who came to sneak a peek at the exotic fowl before it had a chance to fly away – or rather, to to dodge.
What few could have predicted, the lucky duck went off in true Texas style, riding a shotgun in a pickup truck on Saturday morning. But don’t worry, he wasn’t ab-duck-ted.
“I was contacted on Sunday evening by individuals whose duck was missing and they had seen it in [the news] about a mandarin duck,” Michael Gonzalez, game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told ValleyCentral.
Now reunited with its owners, the bird didn’t have to migrate far to find its home as it is owned by a Harlingen family.
“They were able to provide photos of themselves with the duck, actually of them holding the duck, and it was their home,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t an internet stock photo or anything.”
Initially, when the owners bought the duck, its wings were clipped, the game warden said.
“But ducks molt and their wings grow. So he had the ability, so he got out of them [yard]”, González said.
However, before retrieving their pet, the Harlingen family wanted to take all necessary steps to work with TPWD officials, in case retrieving their pet ruffles someone’s feathers. After all, the duck had been nestling in the media center and waddling into the watchful eyes of an admiring audience since escaping from his backyard.
“They knew from the start, because they are avid birders themselves,” Gonzalez said. “They knew and said, ‘That’s why we’re calling you because we don’t want to get in trouble for picking up our duck. “”
The game warden confirmed that state and federal rules do not prohibit them from possessing the duck, which is banded on one leg, and that no law would prevent them from retrieving it from the park. He met the owners at Pendleton Park on Wednesday.
“The owners were reluctant to take [the duck home] because there were a lot of people there taking pictures of the duck and showing interest,” Gonzalez said. “And they were like, ‘Now we feel like the bad guys are coming to take our duck.
Some of those people that day had come all the way to Corpus Christi and another from out of state, Gonzalez said. So the owners decided to leave the duck for a few more days and let people take the opportunity to see it and take pictures.
“They respect that people enjoy taking pictures of these animals and wanted to give people the opportunity to do so,” the game warden said. “With a few more days, however, more people heard about it and more people showed up.”
Gonzalez confirmed the owners picked up the duck on Saturday. The owners had the opportunity to speak with ValleyCentral but were not immediately available for comment.
“These people did everything the right way,” Gonzalez said. “Rather than going out there and grabbing it, they wanted to make sure they covered all their bases.”
That is, they wanted to have all their ducks in a row.