Over the past five summers, ducks have become regulars at the Burger King in the BWI Commerce Park in Linthicum, where a marshy drainage basin known to employees as "the pond" takes up much of the back lot.
Employees feed the flock, and customers have become accustomed to the birds waddling on the grass past them in the drive-through line.
But the restaurant switched from refuge to rescue mode recently, when the staff noticed that one of the ducks had been hit by a blowgun dart.
The dart was lodged in the bird's neck for two weeks until it finally broke in half Tuesday, leaving the head embedded -- and also leaving a large, infected wound.
The Burger King staff had grown increasingly upset watching the duck, a male nicknamed Pokey, suffer and grow visibly weaker.
But yesterday, a visiting veterinarian and the morning crew were able to capture Pokey and ease his suffering.
"It all happened so fast I didn't even get his name," said Julie Smith, a shift manager, of the vet who stopped by to check on the bird and give the crew some tips on catching him.
Smith says she had called several organizations and agencies, including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a Westminster veterinary hospital, trying to find someone who would capture and treat the bird.
But every agency told her that it could help only if someone managed to capture the duck and bring him to them.
Despite his injury, Pokey could use his wings effectively and had avoided capture, including one customer's zealous attempt to catch him with his coat.
But yesterday Pokey got lucky. Smith, the vet and a few workers zTC spotted Pokey outside about 8: 30 a.m. and surrounded him, preventing him from flying away because ducks take off diagonally. The vet nabbed the bird, took the head of the dart out of his neck and set him free.
"He said that should clear up the infection," Smith said. "The duck will probably turn out fine."
Republic Foods, Burger King's owner, had offered a $100 donation to any qualified organization that would help the wounded duck, so there should be a little reward if the visiting veterinarian stops in again.
Pub Date: 6/25/98