Why you might not want a duck (Part II)

[continued from Part I] So, as you’ll recall, we had just deposited Kennery and Rose Petal on the shores of the Nature Center pond to begin their lives of freedom. But strangely, they didn’t seem to want to stay there. Hmm, I thought, maybe they just need a little encouragement? They have feathers and should be able to fly by now, so let’s give them a hand with the transition off the ground and into the air.

Ancient Egyptian Birds take flight (via zazzle.com)

Imagined As we gently lift Kennery and Rose Petal into the air and let go, they float for a few transcendent moments, suspended between earth and sky, captivity and freedom, the human and animal worlds, recognizing their mythological significance since the dawn of history: the ultimate symbols of freedom. They are quickly overcome by their own powerful instincts (not unlike a Charismatic fit of the Holy Spirit), take flight across the pond, and settle in among their wild compatriots to a life of purpose and opportunity. Sun beams burst forth, Born Free can be heard in the distance.

Real We gently lift Kennery and Rose Petal into the air and let go. They fall into the water like dead weight, swim to shore, and stand quacking next to us. Believing that they perhaps hadn’t received enough momentum to encourage flight the first time, we try again, tossing them with added vigor.  Again, they fall like torpedoes into the water, swim back to shore, and rejoin us with more devotion than ever.

Our ducks flew like these ancient Egyptian birds might. (Image courtesy National Geographic.)

In a panic and unable to contemplate why the ducks’ wings and instincts aren’t working, we try to run away. They follow. Then, someone who appears to work at the Nature Center approaches us and asks what we’re doing in the restricted area. I say I didn’t realize we were in restricted territory and we were actually trying to leave but some ducks were following us, I didn’t know why. I point and look confused. I believe I hear the cock crow three times. I can tell the woman is suspicious but never actually accuses me of lying. Oh, what the heck, I say, I guess we’ll let the ducks follow us… and off we walk back to the truck, the four of us.

Feeling sad, guilty, and out of options, we sit for a while in the truck before the next idea hits me like a skeet shot out of the air: Wildlife Rescue!  I knew about of Wildlife Rescue. They cared for injured and abandoned birds and other animals until they could be released back into the wild. And their drop-off place just happened to be at the Rio Grande Nature Center! Perfect.

Of course, our ducks were not exactly wild, so this plan would entail a creative interpretation of events. I counsel Isabella on how to be an effective liar; yes, an important lesson for a nine-year-old, especially if you’ve just taught her how to trespass and smuggle contraband.

We enter Wildlife Rescue with our “wild” ducks and explain to the intake person that a friend had found them as ducklings (Mallards?) at the river and gave them to us because we have a pond. Even though we knew nothing about ducks, we had agreed to let them live in our pond but now they had outgrown it. No, they are not pets (as Isabella squeals, “Their names are Rose Petal and Kennery!!!”). The intake woman is very sympathetic and takes the ducks as I place several large bills in the Donations jar. She says the ducks will be safe in the outdoor habitat until they are full-grown, and then they’ll be released. Whew!! We left the Nature Center bathed in an indescribable peace, feeling 56 pounds lighter.

Home at last!

Fast Forward 5 years Isabella decided that for her service project this semester, she would volunteer at Wildlife Rescue because she thought it would be fun to work with birds. There were two trainings before her service began. The trainer told the class how important it is not to talk to, or pet the birds, or encourage them in any way to bond with you.

To illustrate her point, the trainer told a story about how four or five years ago, someone brought in two male Mallards that seemed to have bonded with humans. In fact, they refused to leave even after they were fully grown and released. She said the ducks socialized with wild ducks, but would come back and stand outside the building, looking in the windows. This went on for four months until finally, with a little encouragement in the form of tapered-off feedings, the two ducks settled permanently among their compatriots and embraced their wild lives of purpose and opportunity.

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12 thoughts on “Why you might not want a duck (Part II)

  1. I love it…lying, trespassing, smuggling contraband. You are definitely my kind of friend. Now, I’m way too much of a coward to do things like that, but I love knowing people who do.

    However this was my favorite part:

    “Imagined As we gently lift Kennery and Rose Petal into the air and let go, they float for a few transcendent moments, suspended between earth and sky, captivity and freedom, the human and animal worlds, recognizing their mythological significance since the dawn of history: the ultimate symbols of freedom. They are quickly overcome by their own powerful instincts (not unlike a Charismatic fit of the Holy Spirit), take flight across the pond, and settle in among their wild compatriots to a life of purpose and opportunity. Sun beams burst forth, Born Free can be heard in the distance.”

    Damn you, now I can’t get Born Free out of my head!

    • Hey, CCL! …as free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows… That was actually one of my early childhood traumas, listening to our Born Free record (music + story) and crying my eyeballs out every time. Thanks for stopping by and pointing out your fave part. I am in the midst of reading your new post but damn, girl! I have to do it in installments…

        • It was engaging, I think that’s the most important part. I’m always paranoid about writing something long and readers take one look at it, become exhausted, and close the window. But, oh well! With ONE THOUSAND FOLLOWERS (probably more now) I guess you can give or take a few. BTW, my official entry for telling you what to write about is what I’d already said in the comments–the mysterious allure of the Heroin Poster Child Woman. Child. Whatever. I can even find images for you, or take some!

  2. Great story! I have also taught my kids some er “lessons” that I mighta shoulda not, but hey for the right reasons. So cute when they are young.

    • Loveguesset… thank you! I’m glad you stopped by to read about ducks and questionable parenting, and leave comment. Nice to see you here. I will go check your blog for more content now… been waiting!

    • Thanks, Guapo! No, she didn’t blow it, I think by that time the intake woman was totally focused on the ducks. I shuffled Isabella toward the door pretty quickly. Poor thing. It was really a lesson in a sustained lie! 😮

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