Tuesday, April 8, 2008

That Incorrigable Duck!

Hi Folks!

Hey, how 'bout this spring-like weather?! Makes me want to go out and play!

I've put off writing a follow-up about Pretty Boy's second stint in my tub not because the story has an unhappy ending, but because he was such a shit while he was here, I'm still reeling from it! As you may recall, the ducks are in the midst of the spring mating ritual down at the pond. The drakes are chasing the girls around, they're also chasing the other drakes away from their conquests, and the poor girls just look harried and worn out. It's not a pretty sight.

I guess I didn't realize how strongly those duck hormones rage at this time of year, but I'll never make that mistake again! Because for the three days that Pretty Boy was in my bathroom, he spent all his waking hours looking for trouble. He poked his bill into the shelves he could reach, he banged his way around the room, and, in one astonishing instance of duck rage, he yanked my full-sized bath towel off the rack. When I walked into the bathroom to investigate all the noise, I found my towel lying in a heap on the floor.

I said in my book - and it bears repeating here - that when you mess with nature, nature will find a way to mess back. Instead of a complacent duck in my tub, I had an incensed, hormone-driven creature being compelled by forces that he couldn't control if he wanted to. Why I fail to see these things in the course of events is beyond me; hindsight truly is 20/20.

In any case, I managed to snag an appointment with Dr. Chrys, who was, apparently, back from house-hunting in Germany. I'm told that her last day at the animal hospital will be May 31st. She'll be sorely missed. Dr. Chrys looked Pretty Boy's eye over carefully, and pronounced it infection-free. Thank God! She cleared him to go back to the pond ASAP, and gave me a salve to put in that eye once a month as a preventative measure. All the while, Pretty Boy was as bitchy with Dr. Chrys as he had been with me. I left the animal hospital and drove him directly to the pond.

There is an interesting aside to this latest duck adventure. In an effort to keep the car-time crabbing to a dull roar, I opened the top of the carrier so that Pretty Boy could stand up straight and get a look at things. He and the carrier were in the front passenger's seat, so I had a clear view of what happened during the drive.

What happened during the drive was this: Pretty Boy stuck his head up out of the carrier and suddenly realized he was flying. I don't need to remind you that Pretty Boy is a flightless duck - and I don't know whether he even has any concept of flight, given that he's never once flown at all. But something about the movement, the speed, the sense of being above the ground, struck a chord in him, and he was captivated.

Pretty Boy stood motionless in the carrier. Once, on the highway, a tractor-trailor passed us. He tilted his head to get a better look at it. "Geese!," I announced, for lack of an explanation he'd understand, "big honking geese, Pretty Boy!" During that ride, he never once bitched. He didn't even poop.

It was terrific fun being able to give my favorite duck an experience that he'll otherwise never have on his own. The look of rapture on his goofy duck face was worth all the bathroom tantrums he threw, and then some. I don't know whether duck brains have any capacity for memory - although I think they must do, since they've remembered who I am for the last seven years - but I certainly hope so. Particularly in light of the fact that he'll forever more be missing half a wing, I really hope that Pretty Boy retains that "I'm flying!" feeling for the rest of his life. He deserves no less.

So, another duck story with a happy ending. When I dropped him off at the pond, Pretty Boy made a beeline for Girlfriend Duck, exchanged greetings with her, then proceeded to chase the other drakes away from his lady. Things are apparently back to "normal," or whatever passes for it during mating season.

I've already done some egg-hunting - and I've already found a few, despite the current vagaries of the weather. I'm looking forward to summer, when the hormone-addled behavior subsides, and my guys get back to being The Gang. In the meantime, I have a new respect for the power of nature, which revealed itself through an angry duck and an innocent bath towel that was in the wrong place at the wrong time!

That's all for now, folks! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters.

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