This last Saturday our resident mallards had eleven new baby ducklings, which they proudly presented to us that morning and stayed until around 6:30 in the evening. Then, the mother mallard marched all of them out of our yard and down to the lake. Bob followed them along their route (they mostly stayed on the roads), stopping traffic at intersections so they could cross safely. As they neared the water’s edge the mom became confused about which way to get to the water, so Bob coaxed them the final few feet so they could reach the water.
But here’s the most amazing thing: earlier during that afternoon, the mother mallard (Gertrude) came walking over to me on the patio where we had been watching them for the whole day so far. This is the fourth year we’ve done this routine – the mother mallard is always there but the dad is long gone from this “birthing event” and aftermath.
I thought she wanted food and offered her a bowl of duck food. She just stood there getting closer to me, made a few little clucking sounds at me, then walked out in the yard, turned, and flew away!
At first, I was absolutely horrified that she’d left all her babies!
But we quickly surmised that she was leaving them for us to babysit while she ran an errand…or had some other urgent business.
Sure enough, she returned in exactly ten minutes acting as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile, the little ducklings weren’t bothered in the least that she’d left. They happily splashed away the whole time in the pond and then in their kiddie pool that we had put water in for them to wade and play in. When their mom came back they didn’t even seem to notice that she had been gone!
We convinced ourselves that she had intentionally trusted us as surrogate grandparents who would look after her little ones while she was gone. Who knows if this is true, but we sure felt privileged at the time.
What a great day it was!
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Pam Young a.k.a. Tzaddi
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