Duck! Fowl breaks SU dorm window

Posted: May 8, 2013

The Winchester Star

This female mallard, which crashed through a Shenandoah University dorm window, will stay at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center for about a week to ensure she is fit to be released into the wild. (Photo by Provided by Blue Ridge Wildlife Center)

WINCHESTER — The last thing two Shenandoah University freshmen were expecting to come crashing through their dormitory window Monday night was a duck.

But, as the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

“At first I assumed it was a ball,” said Alec Starks, 18, of Parker Hall. “And then Felipe (his roommate) was like, ‘Wait, there’s a duck!’”

The two live closer to a football field than any sort of water, but that didn’t stop the adult female mallard from making quite the ruckus in their room just before 6:15 p.m.

“We heard a big crash, or boom, and the window was flying all over the place,” said Felipe Cuesta, 20.

He said he was napping when the duck made herself at home in the room.

“The duck was just walking around ... it was interesting,” he said. “Waking up like that is not something I’m used to every day.”

Starks said he didn’t know how to process what was taking place when it happened.

“Do I call 911?” he wondered.

After fetching a resident assistant, the students called animal control and within a short time, the duck was on her way to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Millwood.

“The duck is OK,” Jennifer Burghoffer, a wildlife rehabilitator at the center, said Tuesday.

Other than a small wound on the underside of her wing, Burghoffer said the duck appeared well, but that they would be keeping her for at least a week for observation.

“She’s going to need a little time,” she added.

As for why she decided to crash through a window, Burghoffer said her guess was as good as anyone’s.

“There are a number of factors; she could have been ill, running from a predator or a strong gust of wind could have knocked her off balance,” she said. “She definitely didn’t do it on purpose.”

Belinda Burwell, director of the rehab center and a veterinarian, said the duck was kept in a cage most of Tuesday so she could rest.

She’ll be moved outside today, so she can be monitored on her flight and movement.

“We have 12 orphan mallard ducklings who we would like to see if she will adopt,” Burwell added in an email. “Sometimes wild mothers will accept orphan babies even if they are not their own (they need to be of the same species).”

And it’s possible that the duck could have her own nest somewhere in the wild, according to Burghoffer.

“It is baby season,” she said. “The chance that she has a nest is very high.”

For that reason, Burghoffer said the center will try and release the duck as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Cuesta and Starks have quite the tale.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Cuesta said. “It’s a story that I guess we’ll be telling everyone.”

Starks said the event was a nice break from finals week on campus.

— Contact Melissa Boughtonat mboughton@winchesterstar.com