My latest (ducky) story for Your Local Journal

Published May 12, 2016 in Your Local Journal. I’ve included some “extra” photos that weren’t published either in print or online on Your Local Journal’s Facebook page.

A ducky love affair & rescue at the Complexe Pointe-Claire

Stephanie O’Hanley
Special Contributor

They came, they went, they came back and then they were rescued.

Sandra Spaziani, an employee at Concept Élite, said she first spotted wild mallard ducks at the Complexe Pointe-Claire in late March or early April when they waddled by the hair salon. She remembers the timing because she was about to go on holiday and she snapped photos of the ducks.

“There were three of them, a male and two females walking around,” said Spaziani. “Then they disappeared. I don’t know where they go.”

Oxana Ursulyak, owner of neighbouring store Le Chocolat Belge, saw the ducks on April 7 and posted photos on her personal Facebook page with the heading “My clients today!”


“I was very surprised,” Ursulyak recalled. “Everybody went outside and started to take photos.” One man driving a car even stopped to snap a picture,  she said. “People go crazy.

“I was overwhelmed with joy,” Ursulyak added. “They are so nice, with orange feet.”

One Sunday morning (May 1) a Your Local Journal reporter saw a mallard couple strolling in front of the Chapters bookstore. The smitten pair headed towards Sushi Shop next door, where they looked in the window.


Ursulyak said she was surprised the ducks weren’t scared of people and that she saw a man from the nearby pet store, the Nature Pet Centre, come out and feed the ducks small pieces of something.

Last week Olivia, an employee at Nature Pet Centre, told Your Local Journal the ducks probably don’t live at the shopping centre but were often seen at the back of the mall. She said the pet store’s staff took care of a male duck that injured his foot and that all the ducks were “okay now.”

Then on Monday morning (May 9) Spaziani once again saw ducks outside Concept Élite. This time it was a female duck with nine little ducklings.

Photo by Sandra Spaziani
Photo by Sandra Spaziani

“I’m an animal lover,” she said. “For me it’s cute. I feel sad for them. I wish I could put them in the lake. I feel bad for them because there are cars around and they could get hit.”

The sight of the mama duck and ducklings gathered in a desolate walled corner of the nearby CIBC’s building also alarmed Ly, an employee at Nature Pet Centre.

“They can’t live here,” he said, pointing out that while he’s fed the ducks crickets, there was no decent food available and a very real risk the mother duck or ducklings could be hit by a car since the mother could not fly away with her ducklings and a male duck had already been hit.

Ly phoned friends to help him transport the duck family. Being used to handling birds, he said he placed the mother duck in a carrier and the ducklings in one of the store’s boxes and took them to his house in the Pointe-du-Domaine neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, where they’ll be released into the wild.

“I live near the lakeshore,” Ly said.

It’s unclear whether the other ducks will come back or even why the wild birds dropped by the Complexe Pointe-Claire to begin with.

“It could be possible they hang there because there’s food or something,” said Ecomuseum communications director Émilie Sénécal. She said ducks nest near water and it’s hard to tell where they live. “Ducks move around.”

Migratory birds are protected by the federal government. “Ducks often nest in urban areas,”  Natalie Huneault , media relations spokesperson for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said in an email.

“The females select the nest location, and tend to choose locations where they succeeded in raising their broods the year before,” Huneault said. “Inexperienced one-year females may select inappropriate nest locations, and in these situations, it is best to let nature run its course.”

Ducks come under Migratory Bird Regulations (MBR), she said. Section 6 of the MBR says ”no person shall disturb, destroy or take a nest, egg, nest shelter, eider duck shelter or duck box of a migratory bird.” Under the regulations it’s illegal to have in your possession “ a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird except under authority of a permit.”

A woman answering the phone at Environment and Climate Change Canada’s general enquiries line said she gets 20 calls a day about geese and ducks nesting in places like shopping centres. When ducks are in danger they may be relocated. “Someone in management would have to call us,” she said. [Note: When I mentioned this during an email exchange with Huneault when I questioned why the general enquiries line gave me a completely different answer,  she wrote back that the “staff at the general enquiries centre are not spokespeople.”  She also said: ” There are very few exceptions for Environment and Climate Change Canada to deliver a permit to relocate a nest and it’s suggested to let nature run its course.”]


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