Summer Of The Ducks Dilbert & Lucky aka, Duck Tales
My first experience with ducks came about by circumstances beyond my control. `Ma Nature' had a lot to do with it though. It was Springtime and my wife and I were in the yard cleaning up Winter debris, when my wife started to go spastic, shouting and waving her arms about chasing the cat across the backyard. At first I assumed that there was a snake lurking about. The presence or even the possibility of the presence of one of these creatures brings out the qualities of an Olympic pole-vaulter in my lady and probably the cat was just reacting to her panic. Come to find out, the cat was chasing a wild duckling; later to be known as `Lucky' for it was the only survivor of the brood. We chose a generic name since we could not determine the sex of the duckling. The cat broke off his chase and I saw this fuzzy wild duckling doing its best speed, plus all of its adrenaline boost, heading for the nearest bushes. It made it! It took a while, between fits of laughter, to convince my wife that `lucky' was hidden and that it most likely would be safe. To my relief `ole lucky' was swimming in our pond the next morning. Fortunately, we have a small pond where `Lucky' could be safe from land predators and hopefully survive without its mother.
`Lucky' developed into a healthy female mallard without its mother and not too much assistance from us. We provided cracked corn and a protective watchful eye. We were concerned that she would not attempt to migrate and started researching Winter shelter possibilities if she should stay through Winter. It turned out not to be a concern. She started testing her wings in late Summer and by early Fall was practicing takeoffs and landings. Her imprinted genetic blueprint was alive and well and we were ecstatic.
My wife decided that Lucky was lonely and needed a companion. The search started for a friend for Lucky. By chance, two male domestic Mallard ducks needed a home, so enter Dilbert and Darryl on the scene. After the chaos settled down and the pecking order was established, Dilbert was the confirmed leader and the little flotilla settled into a normal duck routine. Dilbert in front, Lucky in the middle and Darryl bringing up the rear. They were certainly fun to watch and we learned a lot about duck behavior.
The odd trio was not meant to be however, and in October 1995, a stranger appeared on the scene. A wild male Mallard spotted Lucky and it was love at first sight. Dilbert and Darryl tried in vain to fend off the wild Mallards advances but to no avail. The wild Mallard became Larry and soon Larry and Lucky were flying off into the sunset. Lucky and Larry returned almost daily until late November and we assumed they flew South for the Winter. This was meant to be and although we missed her, we knew it was best.
As Paul Harvey says "now for the rest of the story". Lucky, and we presume Larry, return every Spring to the pond where she grew up. They just flew in two weeks ago and she waits for her corn and appears to visit with Dilbert and Darryl. Dilbert and Darryl announce her arrival with loud quacking and wing flapping and still try to push Larry out of picture. She doesn't nest here but we guess that she is with the flock in the swamp near by. We look for her every Spring like anxious parents awaiting a child's return home and we dread the day she fails to return. We will enjoy the experience while we can and try not to worry about things we cannot change.