Redhead Duck Survives a Fishing Line Snag at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 16, 2020

One of my birding stops this morning was at the Fox River in Waukesha. Some unexpected and unwanted drama occurred. 6 Redheads were present, one female. The ducks starting feeding after a slow start and when one took a dive for some aquatic plants it came fighting some fishing line around its body. It did this action for about 2-3 minutes before taking a break on the ice ledge near the dam, it had to have been exhausted. It went back into the water after a break, I could still see the fishing line and it did some more action in the water to try to get rid of the line. I was instantly trying to think of resources that might be able to help but it was Sunday! The duck in the middle of the river sitting on thin ice with open water inches away in need of help. On the ice, the duck did some biting on the double line, unbelievably the line broke off and fell in the river. What I felt had happened, the duck had grabbed a bill full of aquatic plants and swallowed it along with the line that was free, laying in some of the plants under water. In a couple of minutes the duck seemed fine and it was resting. It seemed like a miracle took place. The 100’s of other ducks and Canada Geese present remained almost motionless during the event, amazing! Images were taken on February 16, 2020.

Redhead, the struggle with the fishing line, I saw the line once in and around the wings…

Most images show the fishing line…

Image shows a double fishing line, the Redhead grabbed some aquatic plant material in the middle of a broken fishing line, ate the plant material, the line stayed in, the exposed fishing line fell into the water, hopefully the line will pass though this duck…

Image of the duck as the fishing line just fell into the water…

After a short rest on the ice and biting the line, the Redhead floats in the river…

Moments later it appears its eyes might be closed…

What was a bustling area, the river full of swimming ducks and geese immediately came to a halt, as they all knew there was trouble…

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Window to Wildlife features the photography of Jim Edlhuber. A lifelong native of Wisconsin, Jim has been photographing wildlife for 20 years. He considers himself an avid photographer and is always trying to capture nature and wildlife through his lens. He is in several photography clubs and has won numerous awards for his work. In recent years, Jim has focused mostly on birding photography and finds it to be the most challenging.

7 Responses to Redhead Duck Survives a Fishing Line Snag at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 16, 2020

  1. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing story, and for the beautiful photos which accompany it. I’m saddened to imagine that anyone would find a reason to make a negative comment about such a story, especially given its apparently happy ending. Keep the stories and photos coming!

  2. Kathi Johnson Rock says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with a happy ending Jim. The way you tell it shows how much you care about birds and wildlife. Great job!!

  3. Joy B says:

    Amazing photos, Jim. Glad it turned out ok.

  4. Marlyn Winter says:


    Thanks again for your beautiful and informative photography. You do exceptional work and I am becoming a better birder because you share it with us.

  5. Kym George says:

    Oh my gosh I would have been I tears watching him struggle So glad he’s ok Some phenomenal shots of this event

  6. Kurt says:

    Nice series of images Jim.

  7. Tari says:

    Remember your local animal rehabilitation centers are a good resource for injured wildlife. A great one in SE WI is Wildlife in Need Center, W349 S1480 S Waterville Rd, Oconomowoc, 53066. 262-965-3090.
    Thanks for the beautiful photos Jim, and for caring.

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