Thursday, March 14, 2013

Backyard Ducks

Life is pretty good for the backyard ducks these days. The miniponds are swelled by recent rains, and the ducks' owners have given them some quality frolic time out of the coop they share with the chickens.
Much as the chickens' showed us how much a backyard could be loved, with their infinite interest in the ground and the bugs and seeds it might hold, so the ducks have shown us what it means to really love water. Using their heads to toss water on their backs, diving, dipping or suddenly launching into a session of joyous thrashing, they revivify all those old expressions about ducks and water. It's easy to believe that they are fish at heart, who maintain wings and feet as backup options.

They don't so much drink water as maintain a current of water through their bodies. This makes them a bit messy in their cohabitation with chickens, which are by comparison much more land-based and clean.

Whereas chickens peck with precision, ducks gobble, especially the big, wobbly Pekin duck on the left, which sends food flying with its gourmandering.

The runner duck, by contrast, is a more graceful and delicate creature, holding its head high and steady like a ballet dancer as it walks. We had had good success with taking it for a walk in Herrontown Woods two months ago, so decided to try it again.

In the interim, however, the duck (Molly) had developed a mind of her own. Rather than following along with us, she immediately set off for the nearest creek.

 Fortunately, we found an abandoned dog leash on the trail, which helped keep the duck heading our way. Up at the Veblen farmstead, we walked by snowdrops planted either by Elizabeth Veblen or as part of a Garden Club of Princeton project some 40 years ago.

Hurricane Sandy has made lots of miniponds in the forest, where wild and somewhat tame life can stop and take a sip.
And so this unexpected life with ducks continues,
in ponds small and smaller
while bigger, bolder birds of a similar feather take up similarly unlikely residence in the broader Princeton landscape.

No comments:

Post a Comment