When I woke up this morning I found a nest full of eggs in our backyard. There were seven in all. They were a little smaller than chicken eggs, and jade green in color.Dad said,”They are most likely duck eggs, this is a major migration corridor.” He’s always saying funny things like that. I think the eggs are mesmerizing, I could sit and watch them all day long! My brother wanted to bring them in and eat them. I was mortified! “There are ducklings in there,” I said! The mother has a funny way of protecting her eggs. As soon as we get close to the nest she jumps off and waddles away squawking and ruffling her feathers. I can almost hear her saying, “I’m over here you long legged ruffians, Don’t I look yummy?” She thinks we want to eat her eggs, so she is trying to distract us. Whoever heard of a duck-egg omelet though, ewe! I decided to leave her alone for a while, Dad thought she might abandon the nest altogether if we didn’t! What kind of mother would do that? She doesn’t strike me as the type, but I am still glad I am not a duck.
A few days later I looked in the yard to see how the mama was doing. There she was huddled close, but her feet looked all grey and fuzzy! I yelled to my mother, “I think mama duck has an infection; her feet have gone moldy.” Mama laughed and said that those are baby ducklings. I stepped out my door to get a better look , and mama duck clumsily stumbled into the water. Her bumbling grey puff balls followed suit, and soon were bobbing in our pool. Once in the water she paddled smoothly with her offspring around her. I ran in the house to get the camera; then hurried back out. Walking around the pool I tried to get closer for a picture. But no matter where I went she swam to the opposite end of the pool, her rowdy brood staying close. The ducklings alternated between swimming fast to catch up and bumping into each other when she stopped. They look more like downy bumper cars than fowl.
I went out today and fed the mama some bread. I threw the pieces of bread to her. Once or twice my aim was too accurate, and I actually hit her with pieces. Ooops. Sorry Momma Duck! Then my brother came out and made a game of it. Sounding like a machine gun and rocket launcher he pelted the crusty bread pieces at her. The mama duck started scolding him loudly, and shook her feathers at him. Then she charged towards the pool fence, stopping just short of hitting it. He was so startled he fell backwards, terrified. He didn’t bother her again.
In the next few days the ducklings became much more independent. I could see them scurrying outside of the pool gate, while the mama quacked angrily at them from inside, “Now” she would say, “Inside, Now!” They payed her no heed. . . That is until I opened the door to go outside. Then, all of a sudden they became terrified. There was a flurry of movement. They headed toward cracks in the pool gate. All except for the smallest, he ran head first at the gate once, twice, three times before realizing he couldn’t go through it. Ha, poor little guy. He finally found his way around. His Mama gave him a look that I am pretty sure I have seen from my mama before. It’s the one that says, “See, that’s why you listen to me.”
I really wanted to see if the ducks would come any closer. I filled up the bathtub in my parents room. I even threw in my pirate rubber duckie for them to play with. I opened the french doors to the pool as wide as they would go. Then I hid in the corner and waited to see if anything would happen. It took a long time for the mama to come exploring. She stuck one foot in the door gingerly, then quickly pulled it out. She stuck her head in and looked left, and then looked right. One of her waiting ducklings rushed in and she hurried in front of him, reprimanded him loudly, shoving him back out of the door with her strong beak. He landed outside with a plop. I almost started laughing at that, but managed to stifle it. The mama duck plodded in and pecked at the floor here and there. Then headed over to the porcelain tub. She poked her beak at the brass feet and waddled heavily over to the step stool. She climbed up the steps and bent her longish neck towards the water. The water was too low. She reached a little further, and a little further, and just a little more until . . . SPLASH! She fell in altogether, her webbed feet flailing madly in the air for an instant. Mama duck ruffled the water off her feathers and gazed about her. Then to her ducklings she commanded “Quack.” In an uneven line the ducklings filed in. They climbed up, and toppled into the bathtub, one after the other. They splashed about merrily, and nipped at each other. They were perplexed by the rubber duck. They pushed it with their bills, and waited for it to respond. They quacked at it, but still no response. Eventually it became a convenient ball in what looked like a game of duck soccer. Their little grey bodies were now much more graceful in the water than when they were younger. Though they still looked too fluffy to fly. I watched them until dinner time.
The next day I walked outside to check on my new pets, and the ducklings were no where to be found. I was devastated. I waited for them all day. I looked for them for the next week, but they never came back. My dad said that sometimes ducks will leave their nest to find better foraging spots. I stuck my tongue out at him. It didn’t help me feel any better. I still miss my ducks, but I won’t give up hope. Maybe someday one of those little chicks will remember their pirate ducky friend and come back to lay they’re eggs here. You never know, it might happen.