Column Two - I Wish I Could Help Them All
Every day for about the last two weeks, I have seen a momma duck and her ducklings walking in the subdivision where I live. Seeing the ducks reminded me of when I lived in South Dakota. (yes, I lived in South Dakota before relocating back to the Daytona Beach area) We lived on a 28-acre lake, and we would watch the geese and ducks come out with their babies. In almost every case, there were at least eight ducklings/goslings per adult couple and as many as 12-15 teams (duck families) on the lake at once. It was fun to observe the tiny little babies mature into adolescent birds, then obnoxious teenagers, and finally full-grown waterfowl.
The duck in my Port Orange subdivision started with six babies, but her team reduced in size as days passed. A few days ago, I only counted two tiny babies following her. Yesterday, I only saw one baby. Today, I saw the momma duck sitting on the sidewalk alone. Her head was focused downward as she sat motionlessly. I pulled over to the side of the road and exited my car. As I approached the duck, she didn't run off or show any signs of aggression. She was very passive and calm.
I thought maybe the duck was injured, and that was why she wasn't moving. I was within a foot of this duck before she even acknowledged my presence. I reached out, thinking the duck would try to peck at me, but she did not. I touched her head, and she just sat there. I began to pet her, and she was fine with it. This sounds silly, but I felt like this duck was in pain, not physically but emotionally. There was no little one's insight, so I assumed the worst had happened to the ducklings, and they had met their demise due to a predator. I looked the duck over to see if she was injured anyway, but she appeared to be fine.
I sat with the duck for about 10-minutes and just talked to her and petted her. As I got up to leave, she stood up as well. As I made my way back to my car, she quickly followed me as if to say, "don’t leave me!” When I opened my car door, she tried to jump in. I couldn’t bring this duck home. Ducks are not meant to be pets, and they belong in the wild. Besides, my wife would kill me if I brought home another animal, and this one’s not even from HHS! So, what to do about this heartbroken duck?
I picked the duck up and put her in the passenger seat of my car. There is a pond in the subdivision, so I headed there to see if she might prefer a large area of water versus camping out in my lanai. Granted, she would be with me in the lanai because my wife would kick me out of the bedroom for bringing home a duck, but that’s neither here nor there.
When I arrived at the pond, I opened the passenger door of my car and asked the duck to come out, to which she showed no interest whatsoever. She began to quack at me and shake her tailfeathers. I picked her up and placed her on the ground. I closed the door and started walking toward the pond. She followed right behind me. When we arrived at the edge of the pond, I stopped and tried to convince her to try out her new home, but she wasn’t having any of it. Some benches surround this pond, so I decided to have a seat to ponder my next move. The duck followed me to the bench and sat at my feet.
I was feeling responsible for the welfare of this duck, but I wasn’t quite sure what I could do about it. We, the duck and I, sat there for about 5-minutes. I thought maybe I could make a break for it back to my car, but this duck was sticking to me like glue. Suddenly, the duck began to quack loudly and ran into the pond flapping her wings. I couldn’t believe the duck went into the pond, but then I saw why. There at the edge of the pond was one little duckling. The momma duck had her baby back! How she became separated from her duckling is beyond me, but now they were reunited and seemed content.
As I made my way back to my car, I was thankful that the duck was with her baby again. I hope they stay safe and healthy. If you are interested in getting a pet, don’t get a duck, a goose, or any animals or birds meant to live in the wild. Get a dog or cat or parakeet, and lastly, adopt, don’t shop.