24 November 2010

Ducks galore

We used to live in a country village a large natural pond bordering one side of our property. Several trees shaded the far end of the garden and remained a roughly grassed area. This became a favourite congregational place for all the local ducks and in the summer I’m talking about approximately ten ducks enjoyed the facilities.

But they did not nest nearby.

For some reason, this particular summer the local children discovered several abandoned ducklings and brought them to me. I never did discover why they chose me, but I never turned them away. My son adored them.

All survived my ministrations but their problems began when I tried re-introducing them to the pond.

First they had problems staying afloat because their feathers lacked the essential oils generated when they preened. Something they apparently learned from their parents. Next I learned the hard way that the parents of each family protected their young against intruders and if a duckling attached itself to the wrong family the male would intentionally drown it.

It may seem hard, but the name of Nature’s game is ‘Survival of the fittest.’

The summer flew by and the local children turned up with two more orphans. I looked after them for a few days before considering releasing them onto the pond, hopeful and yet anxious for their future.

Fortunately a mother duck had just brought her eleven chicks onto the water for the first time a couple of days previously, so with bated breath I released my two charges into the melee of her chicks and waited for the parents to notice their additions.

Either these parents couldn’t count or didn’t mind looking after two more ducklings, because they flourished under the care of their foster parents, and in the winter, a line of fifteen fully grown ducks wended their way to my back door. Of the fifteen, thirteen never hesitated to come into the kitchen if they could, and two, I presume the parents stood outside clucking anxiously until they all headed back to the water again.


Zee said...

Ducks are so cute! We have geese on our campus. They are so cute to look at but I've heard many stories where they will yell at students walking by! Lol Have a great weekend.

Sherry Gloag said...

Over here many people with large estates use gueese as guard 'dogs'!
Thanks for coming by, Zee.