Random little-known Friday factoid:
I am a duck-lover.
Okay, more along the lines of a duck-liker; I don’t exactly love them, per se. Not in a Duck Dynasty kind of way. I do, however, study their behavior when I can, and enjoy feeding them. Maybe sneak in a snapshot of families together every now and again.
Yes, I am the duck lady. Hardy-har-har.
I am the one who sits under the trees watching and talking to the fowls that occupy the local ponds and lakes. Why, you ask? Because it’s quiet there. Because it’s peaceful there. And because the ducks aren’t overly picky with their dinner; they eat what you give them, what they can swallow, eat until they’re full, and they swim away happy.
So not like the rest of us.
My informal career as the duck lady began many months ago. Having observed a number of duck-families in action, I started noticing behavior patterns among themselves – many of which resemble your typical American family, believe it or not. What intrigues me the most is how the adolescent ducks behave – it’s hilarious and appalling at the very same time. These ungrateful little heathens with feathers go from soft, cuddly, cute ducklings to ravenous, bread-hungry, duck-brutes in a matter of weeks. They take no prisoners, I tell you, and they are not afraid to let you know that. Shameful, it is, really.
In fact, it is this very behavior pattern that compelled me to write this post. Several days ago, I was out walking my chihuahua, Charlie, when I noticed a mama duck and her then-well-behaved little brood nestled in the safety of the reeds in a nearby pond. In my mind, I was thinking that it would be nice to unwind by spending some time feeding them, so naturally I had to follow due process to introduce myself before I could be “approved” to share dinner time with them.
Ah, yes. Did I neglect to mention there is a process one must follow before one can feed a duck family? Indeed, there is, friend. Indeed, there is. To be under the assumption that one can just “feed” a duck without permission from the patriarch and a behavioral interview from the matriarch of the family is to live under false pretenses, you see.
Here’s how it usually works:
- Bread supplier (a/k/a the “duck lady”) makes slow incline or decline toward bank and announces arrival by making weird clicking sound with tongue or mouth. This lets them know that you come in peace and mean no harm. Most macho duck patriarchs dig that.
- Bread supplier slowly reaches for dinner, in whichever packaging it’s brought in – paper bag, napkin, etc. It is important to remember to not make any sudden movements. Don’t let these guys fool you. They roll deep. When they stand up and flap their wings, that is not showing off. That is your official warning to take cover immediately, as they are likely summoning their entire species, including prison inmate relatives who can and will beat you to death if they think you’re a threat. Death by duck is not a pretty sight. Proceed with caution.
- Once bread is in hand, throw a few crusts toward the patriarch first. This way he can assess and analyze it, test it for cooties, and let his wife know it’s safe for the children. Once the wife gets the dad’s okay and gives you the once-over (you are another female, after all), you are now an approved supplier. You’re the duck lady, congratulations.
Okay, did that, and now I’m clear to provide sustenance for this family, right? Yes. So, Charlie and I spent a few minutes today and earlier this week with my new friends, and I’m noticing that the now-teenaged duck-brutes (they’re not babies anymore) practically claw over one another to get to the meal; all the while mama-duck stands back, maintains some distance, and eats the leftovers. WHAT??? You mean to tell me that mama-duck, after ALL that she has done for the duck-brutes in her lifetime isn’t considered before the feeding begins? Mama gets no credit at all? She doesn’t get first dibs on dinner? Not even a moment of thanks or a unanimous quack to say “thanks, Mom?” The nerve!!
Who’s running that nest, anyways?
Seeing this detestable demonstration of lack of gratitude left me angry and not a happy camper at all. I was so upset that Charlie and I left, and I vowed not to return anytime soon. Or, at least not until suppertime tomorrow. That’s what they get. Where is the love? Where’s the humanity? As much as I love my own children, well, like they’re my own, in some ways they remind me of these little duck-brutes. Want it all, need it now, “give-me-its-mine”, and Mama gets the leftovers…if at all. Sheesh.
Well, at least I take comfort in knowing that some day, my little duck-brutes ( ahem, I mean, children…heh heh :)) will have broods of their own and will inevitably learn that parenting – in whatever shape or form it comes in – is a thankless job, in which we are most often left to clean up the crumbs. It’s still love, and even with the leftovers, it’s still our job to protect them and teach them to never eat bread from strange duck ladies. It’s for their own good.
….besides, you don’t want to end up like crazy Cousin Steve. Story goes that he got out of the river and has never been the same since. Quacks to himself and all.
Hope I made you laugh. 😛