For several years now, I’ve loved raising some of the most beautiful ducks in the world. They were a daily reprieve for me from the stresses of the world. Yesterday the last of them was taken away from me.
Four days last week I fought an unknown predator that took one each day or ate them inside the aviary because he/she could not get them out through the hole it had made to come in. In all my three Wood ducks, one male and two females were killed along with one of my Mandarin males.
I eventually learned through paw prints it was a raccoon. I was bound and determined to outsmart the little devil, but he/she finally won the war.
After thinking I had won last week, I settled in nicely to having one male and two female Mandarins left which would bring a nice clutch into the world soon. So when I walked out to the aviary yesterday and found the male and one of the females dead, I was devastated.
The only living duck I had left was a female named Jackie. She was sitting quietly on the side of the pond. I don’t know how long she had been sitting in that one spot but I have a feeling it was a long time.
Jackie is about 4 years old. She is a wonderful mother to her offspring. She was the Alpha duck to the others. The aviary was her territory and she was queen. But I knew I’d lost the war with the raccoon and if she was to survive I’d have to give her a chance by freeing her to find her kind on the lake.
So I opened the door wide and tried to shoo her out. But she repeatedly tried to stay inside. It was the only place she knew. Finally I got out a net and guided her through the door.
She took flight and I cried. I left the door wedged open in case she needed to return for food. But I wanted her know she was meant to be wild and could fly away. It is Spring and her instincts should be strong to find another mate. I’m praying she will. I just couldn’t bear to leave her in the aviary which had become a death trap.
© Phyllis Weeks Rogers