Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Duck, duck, dead

I’m keeping the bird theme going here today, but we’re shifting gears from pelicans to ducks, and from central Florida to southern California.

Right down the street from my home, at the hotel where we go to swim, there are various ducks hanging about. These ducks do not fly north for the summer, as they’ve got it too good -- there is a large pond-like body of water for them to swim in (in addition to the pools) and they’re fed regularly by the hotel guests, and staff too.

Some of the ducks have been hanging around longer than others. One pair of ducks in particular, whom the staff and regular visitors have dubbed, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, has been there for years. They’ve become a resort mainstay.

Local lore has it that Mallards mate for life, but a little online research informed me otherwise. Typically, ducks stay close together during the mating season and once the ducklings hatch, the male duck skedaddles. However, my research also uncovered that sometimes this separation does not occur, and that the male duck (the drake!) sticks around and protects those ducklings right along with the mama.

Hence, the situation of Mr. and Mrs. Drake Mallard. They waddle everywhere together, eliciting “awws” and “how cutes” from many a hotel guest.

In fact, just two weeks ago my husband was at the pool talking to some hotel guests about the pair’s longevity, and about how these two ducks, in particular, like to swim in the main pool right along with the peeps.

After his workout, my husband exited the gym to find the same couple looking questioningly at Mr. and Mrs.

Mama duck had been head down in the water for a little too long.

Drake just sat there watching, swimming circles around her. Waiting.

And waiting.

My husband waited for a while as well, but it didn’t take very long to realize that Mrs. Mallard was not coming up for air. She’d perished, right there in the hotel’s main pool! Poor Drake did not seem to get the message.

He would not leave her side. Would not desert those doleful ducky feet.

Even after the hotel had poor mama duck removed, Mr. Mallard remained.

And remained.

It was a stormy weekend, with massive downpours. Still, he remained.

My husband went to feed him twice, as he would not leave the pool to go find food.

Ach, isn't this the saddest thing you've ever heard?

Poor, poor Mr. Mallard.


a big fan of Robert McCloskey in PA said...

'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...or something like that.

hope she knew how loved she was :)

~Mad(elyn) in Alabama said...

I linked to this over on Facebook - I hope you don't mind. This broke my heart for a bit this morning. So very sad.
~Madelyn in Alabama

Pat W said...

maybe that is the true explanation of why I didn't move to San Diego

Anonymous said...

I've known the ducks for many years, They were always together.Funny how numb humans are to other human tragedy, but there's something about animals..

Anyway, the guy duck is still there, but I, along with the hotel staff are feeeding him duck food. He may still be lonely, but at least he has a full belly.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh. My. God. That's how ducks die? That's the saddest story I've ever heard. Can we hook that poor bastard up with a rebound duck? Ach, my heart.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh dear god. Really? Poor Mallard Man. He was probably circling her wondering what was for dinner. And if she had any cash. And if the coffee was ready.

Sorry. Did I say that out loud?

I feel awful for both of them. And what a way to go. Gives "toes up" a new meaning.......


Pickles and Dimes said...

Oh, this is so sad! Poor duck.