They’re all grown up. Seems like just yesterday we were kidnapping them from their mama (who never forgave us, by the way) to keep them safe from the elements. You should see them now! The five surviving waddlers from Brownie’s first brood are flying!
Just to let you know, Brownie gave us two drakes and three hens. Now we have three male ducks, including Papa Drake, four hens, and the mystery duck–the only survivor of her last brood who isn’t old enough to tell us what he/she is. (I’m betting it’s another male).
They’re stretching their wings! The teenagers, the “Quack Pack,” have been practicing all summer. They’ve had their learner’s permits for awhile now (See “Life with Teenage Quackers” from July 29, 2009) and are getting reasonably decent at flying from our yard back to the pond, given a long enough running start–uh, waddling start. Left right left right leftrightleftright lefrighlefrighlefrigh lrlrlrlr fludder fludder fludder up Up UP and . . . splash! Not usually a pretty landing. Sometimes too much nose, others too much tail. Occasionally, I swear I can hear one shout, “Left rudder, left rudder!”
Watching them take off from the water has been a riot, too. I’ll never understand how those corn-fed heavyweights can run on the pond, but they do–although they’re pond-skimmers in the worst way. They slap at the water and scoot across the waves like a Cajun swamp-boat until they’re up–sort of. Their tails drag Vs though the water until they land again. Usually about five feet away. And, again, the landings aren’t always pretty. Amost never pretty.
Until this morning. One of the hens actually took flight. She looked beautiful, flashy-white against pine green, graceful and proud. Ya should’ve seen her! She circled the pond twice, buzzed the trees (and her brothers), before making
a smooth two-point landing that barely rippled the water.
I gotta tell ya, I cried.
Then she started the head-jut-huffy jig. I don’t know how else to describe it. The ducks will jut their heads out as far as their necks will allow and make this soft huffing sound while they bob, and repeat the motion as often as it takes to convey their meaning. Which, in this case, was: “I did it. I’m good. Yep. Did ya see that? Uh-huh! That was fine!”
By this time, her parents are rooster-tailing across the pond to her, and she stops bragging. Now she’s got a bit of nonchalant feather-picking action going on. Being Jolene Cool didn’t last long though. Soon all three were doing the head-jut-huffy.
Jolene: “Did ya see me, did ya see me?”
Brownie: “I’m so proud! Sniff!”
Drake: “That’s my girl!” At this point, Drake faces his sons and gives them a wing-whack to the head. “Why can’t you do that?!”
Okay, I made that last part up.
It was great, though. Made me wish for webbed feet and a longer neck so I could head-jut-huffy with them!