Just before Christmas, 2000, I received a call from a family who had rescued and then lovingly raised a little muscovy duckling in Levittown and who now needed a place where he could be free, yet, still taken care of. It seems that Ducky had grown quite a bit and was now terrorizing his neighbors. "Mommy" and "daddy" had to sometimes rush home from work to rescue the neighbors from Ducky.
Ducky was purchased as an Easter present. Ducklings are so cute when they are small, but, as they grow, they require a great deal of time and attention. Sometimes, as in Ducky's case, when the owners can no longer take care of them, they release the baby ducks into the local ponds, thinking that they have done a kindness to the duckling by setting him free, when in reality, they have sentenced him to death because the little duckling does not know how to cope in the wild.
This was the fate awaiting Ducky! I don't know if he knows how lucky he was and just how close he came to an unhappy ending! But, in the nick of time, along came Ducky's "mom" who, not only rescued him, but, brought him into her home where he happily grew up with his two "sisters" and his "dad".
When they brought Ducky to me he was already a teenager. I could tell that they had taken very good care of him. His feathers were so clean and shiny and since he's black and white with a beautiful touch of green, he just gleamed. And the tears I saw in his "sisters" eyes, as they sadly said their goodbyes to the little duckling who had been such a part of their lives, also told me that he was very well loved.
The time had now come for Ducky's family to release him - to let him be free - one of the hardest things to do when you have raised and nurtured a wild animal. By this time, Ducky and his family had already attracted a rather large muscovy audience on my driveway and, as his family gently placed him down, I tried to prepare everyone for Ducky's initiation into muscovy life. Most often, the dominant males assert their authority over a young male by chasing him around the yard, and, in worst case scenario, chasing him into the creek and across to the opposite side whereupon the young male hangs out for a few days until he either makes peace, friends or gets hungry enough to brave coming back. He then usually defers to the dominant males and life goes back to normal.
Not so with Ducky! When my big, old males tried to chase him, Ducky just jumped on their backs and began fighting with them. He even jumped on Flora, my dominant female's back and began fighting with her! I'd never seen a newcomer act like this and neither did my muscovies. Ducky then marched down to the water, staked out his own territory and hung out there by himself.
As I expected, after about a week, Ducky found his niche in muscovy society and things calmed down. Ducky now had a daily routine. He spent a lot of his time during the day swimming in the creek. For a duckling who was not raised by the water and who only had a big kiddie pool to swim in, he took to the creek like the proverbial "duck to water". I could see him from my windows happily splashing and cavorting in the creek.
And, when dinner time came, Ducky was no slouch. He pushed and shoved for his food, just like everyone else. Being "grandma duck", I was worried that maybe he wasn't eating enough. The weather was getting real cold and this, after all, was a new environment for him. Ducky was so friendly that I was able to pick him up and carry him to a more secluded part of my backyard where I had already placed a bowl of cracked corn just for him. Ducky took a few mouthfuls and left me without so much as a "thank you ma'am" and, back he went to brawling with his friends.
Ducky has already terrorized one of my young males who was born here last summer and from time to time I see him chasing some of the older males too! I have a feeling that he will climb, rather quickly, up the muscovy ladder of success and, with his unique personality, will soon become one of my "web stars"!
Spring has finally arrived and, along with the sunny, warm weather, we all have spring fever. And, since we all know that "in spring a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love", I'm glad to report that Ducky's thoughts have followed the appropriate paths and he now has a very pretty girlfriend. He's a little worn-out, his feathers are a little askew and he has a slight limp in his right leg, but, he's not too much the worse for wear. He won all the fights and he now has the prize. I can hardly wait to see all the little "duckies" ...
Ducky had his first run-in with my sprinkler system. He happened to be sitting on one of the sprinkler heads when the sprinklers went on and poor Ducky just couldn't imagine what was happening! He hissed at it, attacked it and then subscribed to that old proverb - "retreat is the better part of valor"!
To be continued!
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Copyright (c) 2000, (c) 2001, (c) 2002, (c) 2003, (c) 2004 by Maria's Duck