I visited a beautiful park early Friday evening, taking a stroll past the pond. I stopped and smiled as a sweet mallard duck mother and her fuzzy babies floated by. The babies were even smaller than the ones in the photo below and I noted how zippy they were, darting around in the water and hurrying to keep up with Mom. And they stayed right by her side, almost touching her if possible. Truly a heart-warming scene which was ruined shortly thereafter by something I’ll never forget.
As you can imagine there were other animals about – some turtles on nearby rocks, geese, various birds, and other mallard ducks. Suddenly a group of four mallard males rushed upon the mother in the water. They began pecking at her and one of them got behind and on top of her – I’m sure you can guess what he wanted. The mother began quacking loudly in distress, and the babies scattered, but then regrouped a few feet away. Their high-pitched chirping indicated confusion and fear as their mother was driven further away.
The mallard males were so determined they forced the mother to the edge of the pond and onto land. They didn’t even care I was a few feet away – they continued to torment her, biting and gang raping this poor mother. I wondered where the father was? The mother kept trying to get away, making wild sounds and flapping her wings, but as she tried to lift off in flight they would surround her and pin her down. I yelled at them and waved my hands around, advancing towards the feathery fight. It was so crazy that another family stopped next to me to watch and a gentleman ran into the scene and kicked his foot around, finally breaking up the ducks so the mother could fly off. But it still didn’t end. The four ruthless males took off and chased her in the air. You could hear the mother shrieking.
By this time I was quite upset – afraid for the mother’s life, and what would happen to her little ones. They were huddled in the pond, still disoriented and crying. You could see them looking towards the sky and around the pond – where is our mother? What I found extraordinarily special was that a lone female duck swam to the little ones and seemed to act as their temporary mother. The babies instantly took to her for protection and she led them underneath a weeping willow tree not far from where I stood.
Overhead, the mother duck was still being pursued by the vicious male pack. She eventually made a beeline for the pond. Two female ducks swam to her aid, one on each side of her. They headed straight for the babies under the willow tree. Three of the male ducks gave up the chase but one stayed behind the female duck trio, following closely but not making any moves. As Mom reached her babies there were happy duck noises and they immediately moved to her side. Altogether the mom, her babies, and the three other females withdrew from the willow tree’s sanctuary and traveled across the pond together with the one male still in their wake. I lingered for a while, still hesitant to leave, but then had to trust that the female power trio would be enough to help mom ward off horny, foul fowl. I left feeling sad, angry, and just plain disturbed. And then I thought about how these kinds of horrors happen in nature all the time, with even worse endings. It’s a cruel world out there.
To make matters worse, as I made my way to the car, a human fight broke out over a parking issue and it escalated to a point that I feared someone would pull out a gun at any time. People were hiding nearby or quickly making getaways – afraid for their safety. Punches were thrown and blood spilled, but one stranger stayed to help resolve the issue, and so no police were involved. What started out as a lovely evening turned sour, but in both cases I witnessed outsiders stepping in to help out. So there’s the silver lining.
Also for Mother’s Day my mother let me know she wants us to visit this same park. I haven’t told her this story yet but I do want to go back and see if this sweet duck family is still there and hopefully at peace. ❤