Yesterday we were minding our own business, just driving along on a sunny summer afternoon. But there in the road was a duckling, and it was decidedly out of the pond. Was it fate that I was wearing my “Happy Happy Happy” shirt yesterday? Perhaps. At any rate, we parked the car, crossed the road and cornered the little duck.
She was very sweet, and once we saved her from the street and got her calmed down we took her over to a pond and let her get a drink and forage around in the muck. She seemed very happy.
You knew it was coming again-this story is perfect for Duck Dynasty references.
Anyway, what was most interesting was that she didn’t seem scared. She took us like a duck to, wait for it… water!
We searched the area for places she may have come from. No doubt she had already reenacted scenes from the book Are You My Mother? You know, the one where the baby bird goes to everything from a ditch digger to a big dog, asking, “Are you my mother?”
We took her on our own tour, going from one pond to another. A stop in at our vet elicited the terse, “We don’t do ducks.” Ummmmmm, okay.
|"Yes, I ride in cars now."|
Seriously, people, if you don’t remember that book, just go look it up. It’s a classic and you should re-read it for posterity.
We went back to the first pond near a mother duck with a few ducklings, but the mother took her babies and swam away. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) she seemed to imprint on us as her new family. As we left the pond, hoping she would stay with the ducks, she followed us. All the way to our car. She toddled along, peeping cheerfully as she went.
Hoooooowwwwww do you argue with that?
We decided to take her home (shocking) and do some more research on what to do with orphaned ducks. After a cursory Google search, I discovered that mallard babies aren’t on their own until they have feathered wings and can fly. Our little one only had little stumps with pinfeathers and some fuzz but no true feathers yet. She was able to hunt and get food on her own but couldn’t fly away if there was danger.
We put her in the back yard, after making sure the dogs were in the house-because you know they love a good snack. Fortunately we had acquired a new sandbox for the backyard but had not yet acquired sand. We filled the sandbox with water and got some slices of bread.
The hubby was very excited to see that we had brought home another wayward animal! I'm sure he was. At least I think he was. Was he?
This may or may not have been the first time I have tried to rescue or bring home a sad castoff or abandoned animal. Soooooo, maybe there's a trend.
We had to run around to pick up and transfer kids, so I put her in our fenced garden to see if that would keep her comfortable while we were gone. Lately we’ve had plenty of caterpillars and grasshoppers to squelch even the heartiest of duck appetites. She got to work quickly, running under the green beans and snagging grasshoppers.
This could be the start of a beautiful relationship, little duck! When we got back the duck was happily nestled underneath the fig tree and seemed to be no worse for the wear.
Every time I walked away, she started the high-pitched peeping like I’d abandoned her again. All of the kids brought their friends over to stare and pet the duck. And everyone's opinion was that we should keep her forever.
After much debate and research we determined that really we weren’t made to raise a duck. After all, we aren’t ducks. Also, we have dogs. We got a lot of glares from our offspring. What was that in their eyes? Disappointment? Betrayal? Sadness? Maybe all three. The eldest picked up the duck and we got back into the car. We tried again to find her mother. I suggested we take a “gander” around the shops. I didn't get a rim-shot from the eldest. I think I got more of a withering, “Reeeally?” type of a glance.
We went to a pond and put her down near some other ducks. Our hope was that they would take her in and help her survive another few weeks until her wing feathers grew in. Instead, she turned and sprinted after us as fast as her little webbed feet could take her. High-pitched peeping the entire time trying to get us to come back and get her.
We took her back and she kept following us. Luckily a couple nearby intervened. We walked away and they stopped her, feeding her bread and continuing to return her to the water. They acted as a buffer until we were out of eyesight. They came over and told us she was trying to climb out of the pond and come after us. Some ducks were swimming towards her though. Hopefully they would try to take her, wait for it, under their wing.