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Ducks on the Levee

Thursday, December 4, 2014

On my country runs, I visit cattle. On my city runs, along the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers in Marietta, I visit waterfowl. Marietta has the best ducks.

There are many wild mallards who've settled in with the usual motley assortment of Easter ducklings, grown up and dumped along the waterfront. I always think of my dad when I see tame mallards. He loved to proclaim on the fact that the mallard was the progenitor of all domestic duck breeds (except the Muscovy, which is from the wild Central and South American species). He'd say, "But that's not really a duck. It hisses." And then he'd imitate a hissing Muscovy. That was worth seeing.

About the mallard, Dad would say, "Feed him, and he's YOUR DUCK." He thought that the mallard was somehow genetically pre-adapted for domestication. He may have had a point. You don't generally see teal and pintails strolling along levees, looking for handouts.

There are Indian runners and mixed Pekins in the group, all of them GMO mallards, actually.

The Lafayette Hotel should get with the program, get a  Lafayette Duck Wrangler  to walk them through the lobby every day. It'd be a draw. All it would take is a little corn. I shall tender my application. I will need a red footman's uniform with a double row of shiny brass buttons.

It's actually hard to get them worried enough to take flight. I don't like doing that anyway.

But it's nice to know that they can. Don't miss the violet speculum on the drake on the far left. Beautiful.

These photos were taken November 10, when Fall was having her last hurrah. Oh, how I miss the colors. I can't tell you how much I miss the blue skies and the colored leaves.

I was out a couple of days ago under our typical winter skies, and I found this Toulouse goose who obviously got with a Canada gander at some point. She had one mutty baby with her (see its dull chinstrap and grayish orange legs, its big bottom?) 

They're always with the Levee group. See the Pekin-Mallard in front of the Toulouse?

And I got to wondering if she had more than one baby, so I looked up these Nov. 10 photos and by gosh she has three! And then I fell into the blue skies and the colored leaves, and decided to share them with you.

The babies are remarkably consistent in appearance. They got most of their dad's good looks. And they can fly, unlike Mom.

When I came back through at sunset, the babies were flying off to sleep with the wild Canadas
in the middle of the river 

leaving their mother honking, lonely, back at the levee.

She swam slowly after them. 

It kind of broke my heart. But part of her has to be glad for them, that they can fly.


As is usually the case, You manage to make me tear up a little at the end. A bird that cannot fly somehow seems just wrong to me. They have wings... they have feathers. Some sort of cosmic joke?

Oh my. How sweet/sad.

Meanwhile - if that hotel would dress CHET BAKER up in a red suit with brass buttons and let HIM herd the ducks thru the lobby... That would really be something.

We have a greylag...or Toulouse...goose living with the Canadas down by our river. I think she can fly though as when the flock flies off to glean the corn fields she is nowhere to be seen down there.

I had the good fortune to grow up in the Cleveland Metropark North Chagrin where the wood ducks were nearly as tame as the mallards. I have since moved away and am always surprised when wood ducks flush and fly for their lives!

In the river at Bandera , Tx, park, there are a handful of Egyptian geese (who knows from whence) and one had 3 young'uns. There are other geese,odd ducks and one pied-billed grebe there this fall. Linda

Posted by Anonymous December 4, 2014 at 5:06 PM

At first I thought this was all about the ducks and geese. At the end, I realized it's also about a mama from Whipple, OH who, though missing her daughter very very much, knows it's good for the young to be able to leave home and soar. Informative and touching post all wrapped up in one. Thank you. Kim in PA

Posted by Anonymous December 5, 2014 at 7:54 AM

At first I though this was all about ducks and geese. In the end, I realized it's also about a mama from Whipple, OH who, though missing her daughter very very much, understands it's important for the young to leave the mother's side and soar. And the mama is still integral and watchful, just from a little greater distance.

Posted by Anonymous December 5, 2014 at 7:58 AM
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