Okay, maybe I do tend to take too much credit for the SAT scores of my four remaining waterfowl but give a proud mama duck some slack. As the long-suffering, I mean, long-time followers of this blog already know, our feathered babies arrived at the local post office* only two-days-new so I got to play Mrs. Mallard from the first carefully administered drop of water. [see here]
THEY WERE SO ADORABLE!!!
Ahem. Anyway, let’s fast-forward a bunch of months to the point of today’s post: Ducks are darn smart. Ornithological, as it were. Geddit? Ornitho (bird) logic (Spock) = feathery types that can figure out how to save their butts in cold weather!
It’s elementary, dear Readers.
Please understand that most of their lives (about nineteen months of it), our waterfowl have resided in the deer-fenced confines of our roomy backyard. By now these curious birds know every inch of the territory–and we have web-footed evidence all over the snowy yard to prove it!– and what’s more, they also know they’re Not Allowed outside the gates because, well, that’s the way it is. Mama and the smaller version of Mama come through those portals to deliver food, water and fun** but Not Ducks. At least, not on their own. The girls sometimes get to leave the yard and stay in the garage but they’re generally carried there, fussing and quacking all the way.
Not this winter, though.
This winter the number of nights on the under-10 degrees and/or windy chart have exceeded the “isn’t this amusing?” metric and tipped into “what a pain in the derrière!” In other words, carting four ducks to and from yard plus back again, twice a day, every day (not to mention four buckets of water several times as well) has gotten to be a total drag.
Here’s the ducks-are-smart-part.
A couple weeks back, I decided I didn’t want to keep doing this one duck at a time thang since my daughter had to eventually go back to school and then I’d be stuck by myself trying to close the garage door with one hand as I held a powerfully squirming bird in the other. The only other solution would be to take all four at once. That’s right: I made them walk.
I began by picking each up and setting her down next to the wading pool/temp bedding. When they were all out, I shooed the group toward the door with gentle scooping motions. That first day they were not quite sure what to do but certainly game to try. As they stepped into the snowy driveway, they looked around, vocalizing excitedly then a couple plopped down, flummoxed. I picked up the littlest and as the rest watched, opened the gate. After a few more flourishes (“this way, sillies!”), they got the idea and scurried inside.
The next day, they beat me to the gate.
The day after that, they hung out near the gate at the end of the day, waiting to be taken inside.
So, like I said, ready for Harvard.
I’ve been so proud of my girls for their feats of memory and learning that I even (briefly) considered a smarmy bumper sticker like “My duck is smarter than your honor student” or something like that. But, no, we’re not smarmy. We backyard waterfowl types are actually pretty modest.***
Think we’ll just leave the crowing to the chicken crowd.
*Luckily, no postage due!
**If you call chasing us around to get us to do things, fun–then, heck, yeah.
***Er, um, except for this global distribution system called a Blog on the Internet.
Copyright 2014, Lori Fontanes