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.