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A man on a mission to save birds PDF Print E-mail
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Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 20:17

Nicknamed the Duck Whisperer, Kyle Nusslock patrols the Port Washington waterfront in frigid conditions looking for frozen waterfowl in need of help

    One black duck, four mergansers and five geese, two of which were downright nasty — those are the 10 birds that have been saved this winter by Kyle Nusslock, a Saukville man whose love of nature and waterfowl have fueled his mission to save birds helplessly frozen to the pavement, sand and rocks along the Port Washington waterfront.
    “I just want to do my part to help the waterfowl population,” said Nusslock, who works as a fence builder during warmer seasons and describes himself as an avid waterfowl hunter. “For every female bird I save, that may be another 10 birds, not to mention the future generations.”
  BIRD LG  Most mornings, Nusslock drops his son off at school and heads to the lakefront. He starts at the far north end of the marina and works his way south to the launch ramps, then to Coal Dock Park.
    “The birds come out of the water and sit on the pavement, and before they know it, they’re frozen there,” he said.
    His most difficult rescue came in brutal conditions in December when Nusslock found a black duck frozen solid to the parking lot pavement.
    “Normally I can carefully peel the feathers off the pavement and just release the birds, but it was minus-8 that day and this bird was really frozen,” he said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ Then I remembered I had a cup of coffee in my truck.”
    Nusslock used the warm coffee to melt the ice around the bird, but unlike other birds he’s saved, the black duck didn’t fly away.
    “I could tell this bird really needed a break or it wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
    So Nusslock put the duck in his truck and headed to a feed mill, where he bought whole corn for the bird to eat and straw to make a place for the duck to rest. After a few hours of food, water and rest, the duck perked up and Nusslock released it near where he had found it.
    Nusslock, it seems, has an innate ability to handle birds, which has earned him the Facebook nickname the Duck Whisperer.
    “I realize these birds are scared, but I know how to handle them,” he said.
    And the Duck Whisperer doesn’t discriminate. He has rescued five geese this winter.
    “Two of them bit me,” he said. “One was so vicious that I couldn’t get a picture with it.”
    Nusslock documents every one of his rescues by either taking selfies with the birds or asking a bystander to snap a photo.        Neither cold weather nor large, scared birds deter Nusslock from his mission, although a recent run-in with police on the Port Washington breakwater stopped him in his tracks.
    “I almost got a trespassing ticket trying to save a bird on the breakwater,” Nusslock said. “The cops said next time they saw me out there I’d get a ticket.”
    A few days later, he spotted a bird frozen to the ground on private property near Coal Dock Park.
    “I saw the frozen merganser, but I also saw a no trespassing sign,” Nusslock said. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to go in there and get a trespassing ticket.’”
    He went back later to see if the bird managed to free itself.
    “It was still there. It didn’t make it,” Nusslock said. “I assume most of the birds I’ve saved wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t helped them.”
    
   

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