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My Mighty Miss Duck

Updated on November 7, 2014
Used with permission of Alan D. Wilson.
Used with permission of Alan D. Wilson. | Source

The Arrival of Miss Duck

Ducks like to fly in formation with their friends. Once in a while they can become separated from their party. Sometimes they even choose to become separated. I had one individual little duck like that who was flying over my backyard one day and spotted me. He circled and landed twenty feet from me. He quack-quacked his introductions to me and asked if I happened to have any duck food to share with him. I told him I did not, but I had some wild bird seed which I was sprinkling in this corner of the yard for my various Arizona feathered friends including a flock of lovebirds which always visited. I told him he was welcome to help himself. He asked if he could also have some cold fresh water. I was quite happy to oblige him by showing him where the water bowl stood by the patio. He followed me to the bowl and mentioned that the water felt very warm, even hot. I agreed and refilled the bowl with cold tap water from the kitchen sink.

And so began our friendship.

I called him Miss Duck because at the time I didn't have a clue that he was a male. He was a beautiful male mallard.


As the weeks passed, Miss Duck dropped by to visit my backyard and food supplies several times, but not every day. Whenever he did come to visit, though, he circled in the air above our house, honking loudly, "Incoming, incoming" before gliding in for a perfect landing. I always enjoyed his visits. If I was in the house when he landed on the back lawn, he would waddle forward to the sliding patio doors and stand there quacking until he could see me walking through the dining room toward him.

There are several man-made lakes in the Mesa and Gilbert area of Greater Phoenix where we lived, so I imagined Miss Duck often flew to the nearby community lakes to socialize when he wasn't in my neighborhood.

It was about a month after I'd first met Miss Duck that I adopted a frightened little Pomeranian from the local dog shelter. I visited the dog a couple times before I decided for sure I wanted to adopt her. By then, unfortunately, several other people decided they wanted to adopt her. A raffle was held. I won.

On the day I brought Shadow home from the dog pound, I parked in our garage, carried Shadow through the house in my arms, opened the back sliding door of the house and set her down on the back patio to wait for me there in the fenced yard. I closed the sliding glass patio door and went into the garage to unload the car. I heard my little dog begin to bark. I planned on joining her in the backyard as soon as I got her newly purchased bed and food into the house. I knew she would take awhile to feel safe and calm in the new environment.

Suddenly, I heard the barking escalate to frenzied yelps. The image of Miss Duck flashed through my mind. I ran to the patio door, flung it open and looked incredulously at this little dog straddled across a very dead-looking duck on the grass.

I yelled. I chased little Shadow away and cried my way to the sorry little feathery body.

My eyesight is not good without my reading glasses and I didn't have my glasses on. But I watched and blinked and watched some more, thinking I had possibly seen a slight movement. Could the duck be playing dead?

I quickly telephoned Norma, the lady who lived behind us. She was known as a bird expert. I asked her if she could come over. I explained to her what had happened. She arrived within three minutes at the front door and in a no-nonsense manner, walked straight through the house (on my white carpet) to the backyard. She picked up Miss Duck.

"No, he's not dead. He's just in safe mode. He's okay. If he was dead, his neck would be drooping."

From the galleries of Nature's Pics Online (  Sharing of photos from their site is allowed.
From the galleries of Nature's Pics Online ( Sharing of photos from their site is allowed. | Source

Miss Duck was a boy and was not a member of Norma's flock.

I followed suit with the use of the masculine pronoun and I asked Norma if he was one of hers. She had over two hundred birds on her property. Norma is 'grandfathered' into the area with her property rights so she is allowed to keep her hobby farm beside the subdivision where there are rules about how many animals are allowed on each property. She knew all of her birds. She said this one wasn't one of hers, but he had come to visit her ducks a couple of times.

Norma offered to take Miss Duck home and make sure he was fed and happy before nightfall. She told me this duck probably wouldn't risk flying in to visit me anymore. I knew that was best since I wasn't about to give up my sweet new dog, but still I felt a tug at my heart when I realized I might not see Miss Duck again. But I knew the duck needed to stay away for his own sake.

An Ode to Miss Duck

A few weeks later while I was taking my usual daily walk along the canal behind the subdivision, I had a stunning surprise. When I got home a half hour later, I wrote this set of anguished thoughts.

There you are

Below the hydro electric tower

Along the unsightly canal.

Elegant in death as in life.

Body facing upward, neck and head turned backwards,

Eye half-open. Yet still regal.

Your purple patch as beautiful today as yesterday.

Did you suffer long?

I lean closer to be certain your breast is still.

My eyesight is poor.

My heart quickens.

Miss Duck, might you be playing dead again?


You are gone.

Why is my heart breaking?

Now you fly with millions of your kind

Beyond this earthly veil.

Surely a place so near -- yet unseen by human sight.

You are homeward bound,

Beautiful male duck.

Soar high and free.

Upon the sand at this canal lay the lifeless duck.


Wondering How I Knew it was Miss Duck?

You might be wondering how I knew it was my Miss Duck?

Well, I didn't know really. I just assumed because he hadn't come back to visit again. He was the only duck in my little world.

The following week Norma was on her property adjacent to mine and was out among her pear trees while I was out in my back yard. She called to me and we walked toward each other to meet and speak at the fence. Arizona, as you may know, is comprised mostly of sand. The fences in Arizona, generally are usually six-feet tall and made of solid sand-bricks. Therefore, Norma and I couldn't see each other due to the height of the bricks, but we conversed.

Norma said, “Your buddy has been flying in for meals here every couple of days. He's doing well and gets along with all the ducks in my flock. He might even head north with them, you never know.”

I blinked back tears.

I said, “No, I think he died. I saw him at the canal, dead.”

Norma laughed. “Oh, you silly girl. He's not dead. He's standing here, right behind me. Follows me everywhere.”

Ain't Life Grand?

Instantly I was happy. The duck with the broken neck on the sand along the canal was not the duck I knew and liked so well. And yet just as instantly, my heart knew that the duck who fell lifeless there or any duck by any other name than Miss Duck -- is equally as important as the duck I had come to like so well.

Loved, actually. I knew and loved Miss Duck.

A duck or any animal we have known personally – even if we knew them very briefly – can affect our heart tremendously and sometimes even be the reason we feel pain in our heart, figuratively speaking. But more often it is just the meeting of our eyes with an animal's eyes, just a fleeting glance which then brings both souls to look again at one another and to feel something. We might not be able to adopt every animal or every bird needing help, but we feel something. If it were not so, there would not be the impetus required by some people which enables those same people to go forward with hope and faith to create, to organize and to incorporate animal shelters and bird sanctuaries in your state and mine.

That feeling -- that something -- is love. Life is all about love.

And hope. And faith.

The Miss Duck I knew was brave and mighty -- and male.


I Wish You Lunch, Beautiful Male Duck, but not an alive lunch, please.

From the site of Elaine and Ian Wilson -- Nature's Pics Online.
From the site of Elaine and Ian Wilson -- Nature's Pics Online. | Source

And more than this-- I Wish You Love.

Beautiful female mallard with her chicks.  I hope my beautiful male duck friend found a companion.  Photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006.  Used with permission.  Lyrics to I Wish You Love are from W. Houston's song.
Beautiful female mallard with her chicks. I hope my beautiful male duck friend found a companion. Photo by Alan D. Wilson, 2006. Used with permission. Lyrics to I Wish You Love are from W. Houston's song.

Love a Duck

Do you have a favorite kind of duck?

See results

© 2014 Pamela Dapples


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    • moonlake profile image


      3 years ago from America

      Wonderful story. I'm glad your duck was ok. I love Wood ducks and have had them nesting in our yard.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Jodah, I send to you my heartfelt condolences about your pet turkeys -- oh, that's awful. I hope you are at peace about it by now. I can imagine you must miss your dear Pom, too, but old age is a nice way to go and I hope and pray the next time I get up the courage to adopt another dog that she will have the blessing of being able to live a full life and die only of old age. Thank you for visiting.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a beautiful hub Pamela, so touching. I am glad Miss Duck was still alive and well. I am an animal and bird lover so this touched a chord with me. We recently lost a dear pet Pomeranian Amber to old age, and two pet turkeys to a carpet python, so I can relate to what it's like with the death of an animal. Wonderful pictures as well. Voted up.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thank you for your comment and your details about why you write. I, too, hope that one day my grandchildren or great grandchildren will read my writings although I haven't done too much yet to preserve anything I've written on Hubpages. Instead, I've been putting some time into preserving the 40 or so journals I've written throughout the years. The grandkids, when they're grown, will be able to read about their mom or dad when they (my daughter or my son) were toddlers or were going through their teens. I put a lot of other aspects of life into my journals throughout the years -- thoughts and poems and wonderings -- and now I'm adding some illustrations. I think you have a good idea -- in preserving your writings on Hubpages. I just might save a few of my articles now that you've put the idea into my mind. But I don't know, it's a lot of work. Energy -- yes, that is another reason I think some of us slow down or almost stop writing -- bubbling good ideas, but not quite enough energy to do everything one wants. That's fantastic that you have the energy, time and discipline to write five times a week. Thanks again for your visit.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      This one, and the photo illustrations, is "just ducky!" I note that you wrote it Novemberish in keeping with your answer to my question about why some HP writers stop writing. I bet those grandkids have enjoyed sharing your vacation from here.

      I try to write at least five time a week (1) because I love writing, (2) to try to improve my writing, (3) because I treasure the comments I receive from other writer/readers, and (4) because I live under the illusion that some day, perhaps in the distant future, one of my grand or great grandkids will have a chance to know me through what I choose to write about.

      Having so much of my writing in one place (on CD's in case HP is no longer around) just might make that a realistic possibility. The books I have written can collect their own dust, along with anything they earned that hangs around..... together with the postcards I can buy with what I earn here on HP.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      I look forward to all of your stories, aviannovice.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have known, and am still meeting more birds ever day. Yes, there is a special camaraderie, and there always will be. There are so many stories that I can tell, so many visions of the past, and more to follow.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      drbj, thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed this.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      What a sweet story of your Miss/Mr. Duck, Pamela. There are a number of mallards who visit our area every year - they look just like the green-headed hero in your photo.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Prasetio30, I replied to you and managed to lose the reply somehow with the click of a button. Thank you for reading, commenting and voting.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Thank you for visiting, BlossomSB. I'm glad you enjoyed my duck tale.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Dapples 

      4 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      DDE, Yes, I love ducks. Thanks for visiting.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Love your story and so glad he survived.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful story and I like this hub, including the pictures as well. Thanks for sharing with us. Good job and Voted up!


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful and so greatly shared. I like the photos and sounds a wonderful time. Your interest in ducks shows brilliantly.


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