Inquiring Minds is delighted to share this wonderful story from one of our families of how they came to rescue a family of ducks – and the learning that unfolded. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Last year we noticed ducks swimming in the murky, nutrient-rich water above the pool cover. Once the pool was treated and opened, they disappeared. This year has been a different story!We’d been seeing a male and female duck swimming in our pool over the last month. On Sunday of the long weekend Y. said, ‘Look Mommy, duckies!’ Well, there was the mama duck and 10 baby ducklings swimming in our pool! The nest must have been nearby but we still can’t find it. The babies were likely just a day old. Excited comments from Y. included: ‘I’m going to go swim with the ducks’; ‘They’re so cute!’; ‘I’m going to show S. the baby ducks.’ The duck family had to return to their natural habitat – but how?
While the rest of us stayed far back (in case mama duck attacked), Y.’s papa and our neighbour used the pool skimmer to collect the 10 ducklings and put them in a box. H. documented the whole undertaking on video.We headed up the road to the Mill pond ensuring the mama duck was following us (poor things, she and ducklings were so stressed). It was critical she stay near her babies and not get scared and abandon them. We placed them near the pond. There were lots of people around and we had to hold them off so mama duck could be reunited with the ducklings. And then the poor mama was being bothered by the mallards, mating season apparently.
Throughout this adventure, I waited for Y. to make a connection with her ‘Baby Chicks’ exploration at school. As we related the story to her cousins who were visiting that weekend, I was delighted to hear Y. share with lots of giggles: ‘I hold the baby chicks at school!’ ‘J. blowed on the baby chick.’ ‘The baby chicks are so cute!’ That night we were very concerned. Would the baby ducks survive at the main pond? Perhaps we should have left them at the river across the street where it’s quieter. We couldn’t wait for morning to come! The next day we went to visit and saw mama duck with 7 babies swimming at the far end of the pond. It was a bittersweet ending but we were happy to see them in their natural habitat. H. shared philosophical thoughts about ‘the circle of life’.
This past Sunday we visited again. The weather was beautiful and the Mill Pond was very busy, tonnes of people around and many feeding the ducks. We found the mama and baby ducks, swimming happily where we saw them last. We saw only 6 ducklings this time.
The baby ducks had grown considerably, chubby little things. Again, lots of excitement. Y.: ‘Happy Birthday duckies, where’s your mommy?’ ‘Oh, they’re so cute!’ ‘Baby ducks are sparkly.’ Indeed, the water made their feathers glistening in the sun.
As a side story, H. was very alarmed by all the people feeding the ducks bread which makes them sick, grow too fast and not leave during the winter. The geese are also becoming more aggressive. Her dad, who raised hundred of chickens back in South Africa, said it’s not natural for baby ducks to have grown this big so fast, almost tripling in size. The sign for not feeding the ducks is no longer at the pond so H. has already written a letter to Mayor Barrow and is building her own ‘Do Not Feed the Ducks’ sign that we will install at the pond. She will send the letter and photo of the sign to the Liberal newspaper. In any case, mama and babies looked happy and comfortable in their proper home. From what we could see, they are the only new ducklings at the pond!
We thought the story was over – until this morning when we saw the male duck with a female duck swimming in our pool! After the mama and babies left the pool last week, the male duck returned that evening quacking away and calling his mate. We’d see him over the last week hanging at the side of the pool. Looks like he’s found a new friend.
Interesting comments from this morning:
- Me: ‘Oh my Gosh, he’s got a new girlfriend!’
- My husband: ‘He thinks this place is his bachelor pad!’
- H.: ‘I’m going to call him Taylor Swift because he keeps changing girlfriends.’
- Y.: ‘The duckie won’t bite me.’ ‘Don’t come to me, go to the pond.’ ‘The duckies have to go to the pond, they don’t belong in the pool!’
After hanging around for a while, they pair flew over the fence to my neighbour’s side. Maybe that’s where the nest is, which makes sense because it’s just 5 ft or so from the pool. The big question last week was, ‘How did the little babies get to the pool?’ In a few weeks, we may have a new batch of ducklings. Now we’re considering letting them stay longer to increase their chance of survival. We’ll see what happens!
Sincere thanks to Ms. V. for her wonderful blog post – we’re grateful to have families that take as much delight in learning and experiencing nature as we do. Please keep us posted on H’s progress with improving the signage and reinforcing the ‘Do Not Feed the Ducks’ rule, we suspect there’s a story there too!