The End of this Story

I can tell you what happened, but not how or why. On day five, two of the remaining four ducklings died. I quit taking photos. On day six we lost one of the remaining two. And on day seven, Mom flew out of the yard for a while (as was her pattern), leaving the last one alone. He was very busy in the pool for an hour, explored around the yard, and walked off into the tall grass. Mom flew back in several times during the afternoon, but the duckling never reappeared to join her.

It’s hard not to take this experience personally. We didn’t put chemicals in the pool the week before the ducks were born, nor while they were with us. We use no chemicals in the yard. We did not attempt to feed them anything, and predators did not kill them. Several days of rain unearthed bugs and worms and debris they could have ingested to their detriment, but we have spoken to others with pools and ducks who have no similar stories.

I have run through my usual mental platitudes to find a place of consolation, but can’t help but feel somehow responsible. These appeared to be robust ducklings who sickened in our environment. Whether that speaks to our yard, our neighborhood, or our world, I don’t like it.

I took these photos on the first day, not the last, and they are the end of this sad story.

Ducks_31_SBH_160415_MEDucks_74_SBH_160417

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “The End of this Story

  1. I put off reading this, fearing, somehow a sad ending. Oh dear, I do NOT feel you are in any way responsible. But I am so very sorry. Ahh, the mystery of life….and death.

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  2. It might have been botulism. My mom lost all of her first baby ducks to it. The bacteria is plentiful in ducks and duck ponds, and it doesn’t bother adult ducks, but it’s usually much too plentiful for little baby systems. I’m sorry about it; it’s so freaking sad. My momma duck just hatched 3 of them and I’m nearly paranoid trying to prevent all of the things that could go wrong!

    These are amazing pictures, by the way. You’re very talented.

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’ve been reading up a little, and you may be right…the symptoms sound the same as what I saw. I was trying not to “interfere” with nature, but next time (if there is a next time) will continue to add chlorine to the pool to keep bacteria in check (although the chlorine can’t help them either.) Not a good place for baby ducks. Hope you have much better luck; its amazing how quickly we get attached to them! And thanks for the comment about the pictures; I took a zillion of them and now don’t even want to look at them.

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      1. It’s almost impossible not to get attached! I just want to snuggle them all the time. Of course, they don’t really want anything to do with me and mom is never pleased. But oh well. Good luck with everything. 🙂

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  3. Hey! This is NOT your fault in any way.
    You guys gave them them a far better chance then they would have had “in the wild”, without really stepping in and mucking with nature.
    You have had nearly full broods walk out of your “nature preserve” year after year. This was just not their turn.
    Mom and dad are still around and maybe next season, they will do better.
    Maybe they will have learned to lay-off the Mallard-partying, or partaking in the “funny-grass” in route to the nesting area, and start acting like mature adults!
    If every duck hatched made it to adulthood and breeding age, we would have ducks everywhere. Their eco system, or the ones they share it with, would quickly crash. Or self-correct.
    Only the strong survive. It is good for the species and just as nature has planned it.
    Its only tough on us humans and our damned propensity to project our own hopes, fears and platitudes onto the species we share this planet with. Its our curse. Or gift.
    Really exceptional pictures.
    Please; keep at it and try to enjoy the wonder that Mother Nature is allowing you to share with her. You have a great eye for capturing the wonder.

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    1. You are so good to try to console me and I know what you are saying is true. I have been doing some follow up reading (a little late) and from others I understand that the effort needed to keep ducklings alive can be substantial, with proper feed and fresh water and warmth; we didn’t offer them any of that. I made assumptions that we shouldn’t try to interfere with nature, but intervention might have helped. We let the pool bacteria grow rather than chlorinate, and rain added another level of cold to shock them, but who knows. Ducks have to deal with all of that and more in the wild. I agree entirely that the camera allows one to move into focused space and see life differently, and I enjoy that a great deal. Thanks for your nice post.

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