Why are ducks crash landing in Lakewood?

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - If you live in Lakewood, you may have seen a strange sight.

Ducks have been diving from the sky, and crashing directly into bridges in the area. That includes the bridges on Detroit Avenue and Clifton Boulevard.

Altogether, nine ducks have been found dead on the bridges. Several others have been taken to Lake Erie Nature and Science Center for treatment and rehabilitation.

"This is an annual thing that happens to us in a rehab setting," said Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist with the center. "These birds will confuse wet pavement or icy roads for open water, so when these birds are flying over, they think they see open water, and they land there, and then they're stuck there."

The ducks he's been seeing lately are a type of water fowl called the red-breasted merganser.

"Lake Erie has the largest concentration of red-breasted mergansers in the entire world, during migration," he said.

The ducks are built for the water, and they can't move around easily on land. Even if they survive the landing into the bridge relatively unscathed, they can be injured while trapped on land. You can't just pick up one of the birds and put it in the water, either. They have to go through a process called water proofing, which prevents them from drowning.

"It's a process we have to pay close attention to, because they will preen with a  gland on the back of their tail called the uripidual gland, and it basically has good oils that will coat the feathers, so if water goes on, it will roll right off, just like water rolls off a duck's back," said Jasinski.

If you see an injured bird, you can call the center for help. If it's after hours, the number will redirect you to an after-hours line where you can leave a message. You can place the bird into a box, keep it in a warm, dark, quiet place, and don't give it any food or water until the center can return your call.

The Lake Erie Nature and Science Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week.

The number is (440) 871-2900.

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