Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stori ~ baby ducks and tear jerking reunions

I cried over a duck family on Sunday. If you ask my husband if I'm generally a bawl baby, he would tell you I (usually but there are exceptions) only cry over two things. 1. If I'm really really mad. 2. stupid sappy movies. I found an exception this weekend.
On Saturday evening my sister in law brought us over a baby wild duck in a bucket. The duckling was maybe a couple days old and we're pretty sure her cat snatched it either off the slough bank, or on while the duck family was grazing on grass. Heather wasn't sure what to do with the duck and she knew we had several duck families in our neck of the slough as well as a chick box. We have 6 baby turkeys and 1 baby chick in a heated chick box in the barn. With a chick feeder and waterer and a warm light bulb, it's baby bird heaven. Hoping, but with no luck, that the momma duck was in the slough, we decided to just put the duckling in the chick box. We could keep it there till we found an adopted duck family or just raise it to adult hood and figure out what after then.

That weekend just happened to be the same day as our big hog roast/bbq we were holding on Sunday. Since we were roasting a whole hog in a rotisserie roaster Marc made, we were both up and busy at 3 a.m. since it takes a long time to cook an entire pig. Well there I was getting ready checking on the progress of the pork, when I look over and see not one, but two duck mommas and babies! One group was a mallard momma, but the other lady was a Wigeon. Wigeons are tiny little birds that sound like barking dogs when they quack. Wigeon momma's babies looked just like our little sleep over guest in the barn. Not really sure what to do, I asked my Dad his opinion on the matter. I was afraid it would be the wrong mother and after I tossed the baby in the water, she would reject him and the baby would ultimately die. Dad told me he thought it would be fine and go ahead.
Off I go running across the yard with a newborn wild duck tucked firmly in my underarm to keep him warm, hoping to catch up with the mother but not to scare her off. I go about 80 feet up stream from her and quietly plop the baby into the water hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. That momma had seen me and had her little brood heading away from me at top baby duck speed. As soon as baby hit the water, he started peeping his little head off. At the first peep, momma duck hit her webbed brakes and spun around. I could almost see the little disbelief on her beaked face. That baby started peeping and swimming towards her and ol momma duck started hauling water towards that baby as fast as she could, gwaaking the whole time. It was a scene from a classic movie. I could almost hear them saying words as they swam to each other. Each baby peep was "Momma!" and each momma gwaak was "Baby!" It was the right mother after all. Once they reached eachother they rushed up and touched beaks, still peeping and gwaaking to one another. The mother frantically checking her baby and all his little body inventory. Baby excitingly telling his tale of an over night sleep over with some strange little yellow turkeys in a warm cave. About this time, all the little brothers and sisters caught up with their mother in this reunion. All in a little group, they surround Lost Baby and all start their own peeping questions. Softly touching beaks and bumping fuzzy chests together in greeting. After a little while, momma gwaaked a calm order and all babies lined up in a row. Momma in the lead and babies following along, off the newly reunited happy family go down the slough. Back on schedule for the day with the eating of bugs and the learning of little duck lessons. It was perfect.

After everything calmed down, I was able to run to the house and get my camera to snap some pics of the happy Wigeon family getting on with their lives after such a horrific event.

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