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West Hartford Animal Officer Rescues Ducklings from Store Basement – We-Ha

Kimberly Gulino, an animal control worker in West Hartford, rescued two tree duck chicks from the basement of Goldberg’s Bagels.

Animal Control Officer Kimberly Gulino holds one of the baby tree ducks she rescued Tuesday morning. Photo: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

Kimberly Gulino, an animal control officer with the West Hartford Department, has been promoted to animal control supervisor. But when she arrived at police headquarters Tuesday afternoon to attend her official promotion ceremony, her attention was somewhat diverted by a major rescue that had just taken place: two tree duck chicks that she was carrying in a large cardboard box covered with a towel.

Animal Control receives many calls from the community, most of them about domestic or wild animals causing problems or being in unusual situations or places. Tuesday morning, Gulino got the call for the first time.

Two tiny tree ducks, squealing and squawking, were discovered this morning in the basement of Goldberg’s Bagels on New Britain Avenue in Elmwood. The mother duck was nowhere to be found.

After catching the ducklings and removing them from the bagel shop—before they could taste their morning specials—Gulino contacted a wildlife rehabilitator who told her not to feed them or even give them water because they could drown.

Wood ducks nest in tree holes, and even very young ducklings know how to jump toward the light to leave the nest and can jump two feet into the air. “They call it popcorning,” Gulino said when she learned that, and although she initially placed the ducks in a hard-shell dog carrier, the rehabilitator told her to move them before they hurt themselves. She placed them in a cardboard box, covered them with a towel so they couldn’t escape or hurt themselves.

Tree ducks rescued by ACO Kimberly Gulino. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

On Tuesday afternoon, she waited for the ducklings to be picked up by a rehabilitator and took them with her to the police station, where a front desk officer looked after them during their promotion ceremony.

Once an endangered species, wood ducks — one of the most beautiful duck species — have come back into favor thanks to protections under the Migratory Bird Preservation Act of 1918 and wildlife management efforts, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

In Connecticut, they are typically seen in the northwest and northeast corners and “inhabit freshwater forested marshes, sloughs, ponds, rivers, and streams,” according to DEEP. “Important nesting areas include forested marshes (red maple and standing deadwood), scrub marsh, and emergent marshes. Ponds and lakes with shoreline cover (overhanging shrubs and trees) are also favored by wood ducks. Waters with woody debris (logs, stumps, standing trees) and green vegetation provide the best habitat for wood ducks. Adults use woody debris for roosting, and the vegetation provides both cover and a food resource. Invertebrates, which are important sources of protein for hens and ducklings, tend to be more abundant in waters with woody debris and emergent vegetation.”

Gulino doesn’t know where the wood ducks came from, and said Beachland Park appears to be the only nearby habitat — but that would mean they crossed New Britain Avenue to get to Goldberg’s. She said she learned while researching the species that wood ducks can actually walk a mile within days of hatching.

Tree ducks rescued by ACO Kimberly Gulino. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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