31 July 2012

Feeling Ducky

three ducklings with adorable little flippers

We were given three abandoned wild wood ducks a few months ago.  They are very good at hiding.  We learned this recently when one escaped the chicken yard.  She had freed herself from the confines of the duck pen inside the coop early in the day.  Upon discovering her happily quacking around the yard, we decided to let her roam to see if the ducks are ready for a free-range lifestyle.  They're not.  When we tried to encourage her into the coop before dusk, she frantically ran through a small opening under the gate and into the garden.

She is still very small and I doubt a night on her own would end well for anyone other than the raccoons.  As she bolted down the waterway, her flippers a circular blur, I set out in a sprint behind her determined not to lose sight of the little rascal; she's faster than one might expect.  I followed her down the waterway, across the tomato bed, and to the wormwood bush in which she had brilliantly camouflaged herself.  We searched and searched the bushes in which she disappeared, but she didn't make a sound or move.  We were quickly realizing that we'd lost her!

I got a sick feeling as the sun sank further behind the horizon.  I knew the next day I would probably find bits of her strewn across the yard.  I berated myself for all the small mistakes that led up to her escape.  As Nick brought Viv in for bed, I decided to make one more attempt at the duckling rescue mission.

I slowly walked back to the spot where we last saw her and quietly sat down waiting for any small cry or movement.  Sure enough, there was shuffling in the bush.  I carefully moved the branches and found her hidden almost in plain sight under a small branch less than a foot from where I was sitting.  I inched closer; she remained perfectly still.  If I pulled the branch away, she would surely run.  Furthermore, I wasn't confident in catching her with my hands.  That proved difficult when she was living on the porch; I almost always had to catch her with a box to trap her first.  I was wishing I had a net, but I couldn't yell to Nick in the house.  It was too far for him to hear me and I would most likely startle her into another mad dash.  So there, in the middle of the garden, I took off my T-shirt in attempt to catch her in it like a sack. 

It didn't work.  She bolted and I bolted after her through the garden in nothing but shorts and a bra.  I was cognizant enough to grab the shirt and get it over my head as she dashed towards the highway.  I cut her off. She ran around the garage and found a new hiding spot behind the wheelbarrow.  There happened to be some wood next to the garage that I arranged into a barricade around the wheelbarrow so she couldn't escape.  Then I yelled my head off for Nick to come help me.  Once we were certain that she was blocked off, Nick reached in and grabbed the squirmy, frightened little thing and put her back in her pen with her two brothers.  I slowly walked back into the house with my shirt inside out and backwards relieved that our little duck was safe. 

huddled together per usual

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