Just got this little one in, landed in a school parking lot and was found near a fence. This is a type of grebe, they are a diving and fish eating water bird. They are not a duck.
They are excellent swimmers; better swimmers than flyers actually. They fly through the water like penguins and their feet are positioned in the rear of their bodies like penguins, rather than below them like a duck.
They breed in northern area lakes and rivers, then migrate to warmer southern climates in the winter.
They accidentally land on wet pavement thinking it is water when distressed and needing to make an emergency landing. They can also land on solar panels, and other shiny objects that look like water. They usually make one long migration, but if they have lost energy for some reason or are caught in a bad storm - or hit by a nasty cold front in this one's case - they will try to get out of the air and land.
Unfortunately, the positioning of their legs means they can not get into the air again as they are not designed to walk or run on land. They hobble only. And because they weight a good bit for their size and their wings are small for their bodies (designed more for fast swimming to catch fish), they are unable to take off again.
Grebes run on the water a bit before taking off, so not any old pond will do for take off. So they can get stuck on small bodies of water that humans put them on thinking they are helping.
If you find one, call a rehabber. We can find out WHY the bird needed to land, make sure it is ok from the impact of landing on a hard surface, and get it to an appropriate take off point, or even help with the migration. (Oh, the red eyes allow them to see under water really really well).
Author: Elise Wolf
I have been fascinated by wild birds my whole life. The current stresses on our wild bird populations is extraordinary, and helping them is not only an act of kindness and compassion, but demonstrates that humans do have the ability to be selfless and act with love towards their non-human planetary family.