One would think a duck without a bill would hardly be a duck at all, but Tyler Gorecki begs to differ.
Eleven-year-old Gorecki is raising just such a duck on his family’s ranch 28 miles south of Havre.
According to Gorecki, his 6-month-old duck, Jaylay, was eating some grass in a pasture with a horse a few months ago when the horse bit the duck’s bill off.
“The horse came over and just popped it right off, ” Gorecki said. “My mom’s horse is very curious. ”
He said he ran down to his house to show his parents. They first thought the culprit was a skunk they had recently spotted slinking around their land, as skunks sometimes do this sort of thing.
But after looking around, it appeared it was just the duck and the horse in that pasture that day.
The past few months have been trying for Jaylay.
“She’s overcome a lot of obstacles, including eating and drinking, ” Gorecki said.
He said the duck’s mouth has expanded a little bit and is now able to get food and water down, but the main challenge was the duck’s need to preen.
Without a bill it was difficult for Jaylay to engage in that most important of duck grooming activities, constantly fiddling with, cleaning and smoothing their own feathers.
She’s been getting some help from her friends.
Gorecki said that another 6-month-old duck, Jane, that he got at the same time has been helping Jaylay with her grooming.
He brought Jaylay to the Great Northern Fair this week as he competed in his third year of 4-H contests, though she couldn’t compete.
She appears to be in good hands. Gorecki knows a thing or two about bird-rearing. On Thursday he was named Grand Champion in the Junior Poultry competition.
With Gorecki’s skills and the support of the ranch’s duck community Jaylay is one lucky duck, if she’s more careful around that horse.