Pair of buffleheads reunited with 3 ducklings after night out in Hinton, Alta.

An Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer went above and beyond to reunite some abandoned ducklings with their parents.Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer Dana Hazeldine had her hands full for a night as she became a temporary foster parent to three Bufflehead ducklings. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement )A pair of bufflehead ducks have been reunited with their three ducklings after abandoning them at the wrong kind of watering hole — a pub in Hinton, Alta. Brenda Schuetze, a bartender at Cheers, was outside the bar on June 24 when she noticed a couple of cars stop at an intersection for no apparent reason.”Then along come these three little ducklings with this little duck, mommy duck,” Schuetze told CBC News on Thursday. “And they walked across the crosswalk; it was so cute.” Schuetze said the mother tucked the ducklings into a corner near the pub and flew off. “We waited a bit to see if she would come back,” Schuetze said. “Nobody wanted to touch, but then we were also worried about other young kids or creatures or dogs getting at them.” Staff at the pub decided to wrap the ducklings in a towel and call for help. Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer Dana Hazeldine took on the role of social worker and temporary foster mom. “My shift had ended so I went down and picked them up and brought them home,” Hazeldine said. She stopped at the gas station along the way to get the ducklings some mealworms for dinner. Soon they were settling in with Hazeldine’s family, including her two dogs. “They spent the night in our bathtub, swimming around,” she said. “They were pretty good house guests.” Three Bufflehead ducklings spent the night in an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer’s bathtub after being abandoned by their parents. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement) Hazeldine did some research on buffleheads to try to determine where they might have come from. “I wasn’t really aware of any local bodies of water besides the river,” she said. “So I spent the next day driving up and down Highway 16 trying to find a [duck] family that would adopt the ducklings.” It wasn’t an easy task, considering that Hazeldine had to find the right species and circumstances for a successful adoption. She was about to give up and send the ducklings to a rescue centre when she remembered there was some water behind the pulp mill. “I climbed the fence and looked in and there was actually two adult buffleheads in there swimming around,” Hazeldine said. Based on the proximity to the pub and the fact they had no little ones with them, Hazeldine was confident they were the legitimate parents of the ducklings. She released them. The three abandoned ducklings make a beeline for mom and dad after being released by Fish and Wildlife officer Dana Hazeldine. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement) “They ended up swimming as fast as they could across the surface of the water over to the parents,” she said. “Sure enough it ended up being the right family and there was no mistaking those were their kids. It was immediate recognition.” It’s not entirely clear why the parents abandoned their ducklings but Hazeldine thinks they might have been first-time parents looking for a break. “So first stop was the bar and then they decided that maybe they just didn’t want to have the kids around for a couple of hours so they took off,” she said. “They spent their night with me while the parents had a second honeymoon.” Hazeldine said it’s not uncommon for ducklings to be abandoned if the parents are in a tough situation but it’s best to leave them be. “People are supposed to just leave them where they find them, give Fish and Wildlife a call and we’ll come in and assess the situation,” Hazeldine said. “Maybe we can make it a happy ending.” The three ducklings go for a swim with their parents after being reunited. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement)
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