Out for a Duck
7 Jun 2008
Mother duck with family
Mother duck with family
This a story with a happy ending – though it could well have been otherwise.
A duck decided that her Birth Centre was at our home. (A few years ago, our daughter misjudged the distance to the maternity ward and my wife delivered a grandson in the back of my car. Her reputation as a midwife has clearly spread to the avian world. I am happy to say that that delivery was trouble free – there was no damage to the car’s upholstery. Oh - and mother and child did well.)
At first, the duck began to make her nest on the garage roof. This lacked foresight. Her offspring would have been short-lived. Each year, we see on our television screens people who believe they can fly jumping off Southend Pier and dive bombing into the sea. The scene at the garage would have been similar.
She then chose a better place, at ground level, behind some shrubs in the garden. We fed and watered her and her partner, and she then laid a large number of eggs in the nest.
At first, the internal wiring of her maternal instincts seemed to have gone wrong. She would abandon her eggs for long periods of time and we prepared ourselves for large-scale perinatal mortality. We muttered about teen-age pregnancies and the decline of parental responsibility and looked up some recipes for duck eggs. The drake had also lost interest, and made it clear he didn’t want his name on the birth certificate. However, we did the duck an injustice. Unbeknownst to us, she was putting in the necessary time on the nest.
One morning, we were surprised and delighted to see in the garden the mother duck with her 10 ducklings. She was now having to respond to a logistical challenge. We have a walled garden, and the duck had flown in and out during the period of incubation. This means of transport was not available to her offspring, whom the Civil Aviation Authority had deemed to be not yet air-worthy. She wanted to introduce her flock to the village pond now that they had left the maternity ward and was getting increasingly agitated at being confined to the garden of the local MP. We opened the garden gate and my wife took upon herself the role of lollipop lady, escorting the flock down the road and halting the traffic as she did so.
At this point, I am happy to say that the father re-appeared from nowhere. The dear boy had said good-bye to his mates, sold the two seater, and had come back. We wish him well with the sleepless nights.

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