Becky Carlisle knows her ducks.
She can tell you, for example, that Middle Georgia State University is not a good home for the beautiful white ducks often seen gliding across the Macon Campus lake.
"Those are Pekin ducks," said Carlisle, 37, administrative assistant in the Media, Culture and the Arts department. "They're bred for meat or sold as pets. Their bills are flimsy, and because they're so large they can't get underwater to find food. They can't get to the food supply the way wild ducks can. The Canada geese beat up on them. The ducks we see on the lake are usually abandoned pets."
Carlisle's extensive duck knowledge comes from her father, Ray, who raises livestock of all kinds on his property in south Bibb County, including ducks, goats, turkeys and rabbits. She also knows people who work with various animal rescue groups - knowledge that came in handy early last spring when she helped save two Pekin ducklings dumped at the Macon Campus.
A couple of weeks ago, one of MGA's campus police officers, Michael Smith, happened to be in Carlisle's office when he got a call about an injured duck near the Teacher Education Building. Carlisle fetched a box from the copier room and offered to go with him.
They found a female duck unable to walk, probably due to a hip or back injury. A male duck hovered nearby trying to protect his mate. Carlisle picked up the injured duck and placed it in the box, then used part of her lunch hour to take it to a pet kennel until she could figure out what to do.
Back at the office, she brooded about the duck's mate.
"Ducks mate for life," Carlisle said. "I knew the male duck would go into serious distress without her."
Several other Middle Georgia State staff, responding to Carlisle's Facebook postings about the situation, offered to use their lunch breaks to help her catch the male duck. A 20-minute chase ensued, which exhausted the male duck to the point that he gave in when Carlisle caught up with him near the Student Life Center, picked him up and placed him in another copy paper box.
But where could she take the second duck? The kennel was too far away for her to take work time to drive him there, so she called John MacWillams, a friend of hers who works at the Macon-Bibb animal welfare facility on Fulton Mill Road near the campus.
"A lot of people don't know this, but they take in all kinds of animals, not just dogs and cats," Carlisle said.
Smith, the campus police officer, agreed to drive Carlisle and the male duck to the county facility. MacWilliams told her they would provide veterinary care to the injured female, still at the kennel at that point, if Carlisle would help find a home for both ducks.
That part was easy. Carlisle's father agreed to let the ducks live on his property as soon as the female had healed from her injuries.
On her off time, Carlisle picked up the female duck from the kennel and took it to the animal welfare facility. When the female duck rejoined her mate, the two began making "tweeting" noises, something that sounded like a love song to Carlisle and the animal welfare staff.
"It was so sweet we all shed a couple of tears," Carlisle said.
Carlisle named the ducks Henry and Henrietta after characters from a children's book. In a few days, she'll deliver them to her father's land, where their prospects are hopefully brighter.
"They were probably bought as Easter pets and then were abandoned when they got older and harder to care for," Carlisle said. "I hope people who are tempted to buy ducklings and chicks as pets will reconsider if they aren't prepared to take care of them after they're grown."
Photo: Becky Carlisle, left, and Michael Smith with the rescued ducks.