Quacking for help: Maspeth duck finds a new home thanks to neighborly allies

An abandoned duck, later given the name Olivette, is rescued in Maspeth thanks to a few concerned neighbors willing to help.
Photo by Steve Garza

Queens resident Christina Wilkinson says it was on Mother’s Day when she first spotted what appeared to be a female Mallard duck sleeping behind the fence of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Maspeth.

The duck was discovered with some missing feathers and near a bowl of water, in desperate need of help. That’s when Wilkinson tried to seek help from animal rescue centers, but the holiday made it challenging to find timely assistance.

The next day, on Monday, May 13, Wilkinson says she returned to where she first saw the duck, but it was nowhere to be found. However, almost a week later, on Sunday, May 19, Wilkinson says she received a call from Tony Nunziato, President of the Juniper Park Civic Association, about a duck spotted around Grand Avenue near the cemetery gates.

Maspeth locals shared concerns with Nunziato about the duck, noting that its wings were clipped and it was being harassed by crows.

“It was then that my husband Steve and I, having never done this before, decided we would attempt a duck rescue,” Wilkinson told QNS.

The duck darted past the group, flew just beyond their reach, and outmaneuvered its way from its rescuers’ grasps. After some time and persistence, Wilkinson says they managed to back the duck into a corner while her husband, Steve Garza threw a blanket over it.

Once in possession of the Mallard, which was later given the suggested name of Olivette, Wilkinson says it was then guided into a carrier.

Two other residents who approached the rescue team suggested the duck be taken to the Wild Bird Fund (WBF) in Manhattan, so Wilkinson says that’s exactly what her husband did.

New information provided following the trip to the WBF actually identified Olivette as a Rouen duck, which is identified as a domesticated duck with limited survivability in the wild. Therefore, the WBF couldn’t accept Olivette into their care.

The alternative would be to take Olivette to the Animal Care Centers of New York (ACC) located on East 110th Street, in Manhattan, Wilkinson explained. Meanwhile, Steve started to make a few phone calls to other rescue organizations more closely familiar with placing a domesticated duck in a new home.

Eventually, the ACC gave Olivette a clean bill of health and Humane Long Island, an animal activist organization and domestic fowl rescue, pulled Olivette from the shelter to find her forever home, Wilkinson stated.

As of Friday, May 24, Olivette has been placed in her forever home through the Humane Long Island organization. New photos of Olivette in her new home with her adopters were shared with QNS.

Olivette with her duck friends at her new sanctuary. Photo courtesy John Di Leonardo of Humane Long Island
Olivette with her new flock. Photo courtesy John Di Leonardo of Humane Long Island

The organization has specifically worked on an international Duck Defenders Project, which was featured in National Geographic.

It is believed that ducklings are often given as gifts to celebrate the Easter holiday, and the unwanted ducks are often left abandoned. Olivette may have been part of a much larger issue in animal care, but no longer, thanks to a combined effort from Maspeth natives and rescue groups.

Christina Wilkinson is also the editor of the Juniper Berry magazine and president of the Newtown Historical Society.