My Pet Duck, Bianca.
Bianca was my pet duck and I loved her madly even though I only had her for less than a year. This is the story of Bianca, or Duck Duck as she was affectionately called. She died suddenly, with hardly a sign of trouble as is often the case with birds, two days after my birthday. This is not the story of how or why she died, but the story of how she lived and why she stole my heart.
A Duckling in Need of a Mommy
There I was at work minding my own business, when Mack comes in and asks, “Anyone want a pet duck,” knowing full well I’m a soft touch. I try to ignore him. I try not to imagine fluffy, yellow cuteness with over-sized clumsy orange feet and a neck that is slightly too long. Reminding myself that we had plenty of animals in the menagerie was about as useful and easy as nailing Jell-o to a tree.
“Mack, what about the duck? You have a duck?” I asked.
Turns out Mac’s son, a college student, got Duck-Duck and another duck at Tractor Supply with his roommate, a former duck owner. They named her Wobbles and thought she was boy duck, or drake. Turned out Duck-Duck didn’t like dorm living and she chirped incessantly. Not exactly conducive to studying.
Honey, Can I Get a Duck?
I told Mac I would ask Dear Husband about the duck and if it was ok with him, I’d take her. Not sure how he would feel about it, and since we were both at work, I decided to email him.
Me: “Honey, can I get a duck? Mac has a duck that needs a home.”
DH: I really don’t know anything about ducks except giving them bread at the park.
(Dear Reader, Don’t do that. It’s very bad for them.)
Me: “Ok, I will do some research.”
Hopefully, dear reader, you noticed he did not say “no.” He didn’t say, “yes,” either but that was of no consequence to me, The Princess. The important thing is he did not say no.
What a Duck Needs
I turned to the internet and researched keeping ducks as pets, raising ducks, caring for ducks, food and housing for ducks, etc.
I learned she was a Pekin Duck and they are excellent egg-layers but not very good brooders. They need a pond (clean water) to swim in to be happy, a safe place to protect them from predators, a healthy diet, and a warm place to sleep. Ducklings need a heat lamp. Oh, and ducklings who are still downy should not swim. They don’t have oil and feathers to keep them warm.
Me: “Hey honey, the duck will eventually need a pond (kid's wading pool) a pen and little dog house. I don’t think it will be any harder than taking care of the turtle or the dogs.”
No response. Well, no news is good news! I was getting a duck! I told Mac the good news. His son would bring the duck to the office on Friday.
That Friday, I was taking a group of teens from the Library to the movies. I couldn’t leave Wobbles, now named Pasquale (still thinking she’s a he) alone, so I took her to the Library where one of the librarians and a librarian assistant duckling sat. They immediately fell in love. I started to think I wasn’t going to get her back.
Duck Duck Comes Home
Daughter decided the duck could stay in her room. We gave the duck water and some fresh herbs sprinkled in her water. The duck fell asleep on Daughter’s desk. After about three days, Daughter decided Duck Duck needed to stay in my room. Her chirping was driving her nuts. As long as the light was off and it was quiet she would sleep. I kept her in a large Rubbermaid bin. Every morning, I would get up two hours early to feed her, pet her and hold her because I had to be at work all day. When I came home I would take her outside and let her eat and play in the grass. When she got tired she would sit between my feet and go to sleep. Sometimes she would sit on DH’s shoulder and they would both go to sleep. Every day she got bigger.
She started to replace her down with feathers and started climbing in her water bowl. I decided she was ready to start swimming.
First I tried putting her in the kitchen sink while I cleaned the kitchen. Bad idea. She decided to jump out of the sink and ended up on the floor. The great Duck-Dog-Cat chase of 2012 ensued.
Duck in a Bathtub
Duck Duck loved to swim in the bathtub. She would dive under the water and zoom-zoom back and forth. When it was sunny and warm I’d let her swim in her Rubbermaid bin outside. Before bedtime she’d play in the tub and eat her favorite snack, peas, and then I would blow dry her and put her to bed. It seemed like every day she got even bigger. Duck preferred I stay in the bathroom and watch her swim. One night I tried doing the dishes while she was in the tub. I could see her from the kitchen. That wasn’t good enough for Duck Duck. She climbed on the edge of the tub and “yelled” at me. I had to go back and sit there next to the tub watching her. Oh, and I couldn’t touch her! Oh no! I had to look at her, but I was not allowed to touch her. Silly goose! Er, I mean duck.
Duck Duck Goes to the Beach
Spring break had arrived and so did friends from up north. We had a week vacation at the beach planned. I couldn’t leave Duck Duck alone as she was still quite young and in need of care, so we took her with us. She liked the hotel, especially the balcony where she could see everything. She enjoyed sunning at the beach or sitting under her umbrella and making new friends. When she got tired she’d sleep in my lap or on my shoulder. The most difficult part was keeping her hidden from the hotel staff.
While we were at the beach it seemed like she doubled and then tripled in size. Duck Duck was getting BIG! Before I knew it, she was a beautiful grown duck, and no longer a duckling. She was just so sweet and cute; I could not help but fall head over heels in love with a duck. I posted Facebook statuses about her and shared her pictures.
Duck Duck Get Her Own Digs
As a full grown and independent duck, Duck Duck had outgrown her large Rubbermaid bin. DH bought her a 10’x10’x10’ pen, and tarp for shade and we set it up in the back yard. I added a dog house, and swimming pool. Duck Duck certainly seemed to like her new home. Every morning she would come out and walk around. When it was hailing or cold, she’d come inside. She liked to harass the Chihuahua and Pomeranian and steal their food. She also liked to watch TV. Her way of showing her affection for me was to quietly walk over and stare at me and then place one webbed foot on mine. She also liked to follow me when I walked the dogs. She loved to look for bugs in the garden and eat my plants. She always had a lot to say.
This Duck is a Lady!
One morning while feeding Duck Duck, I made a startling discovery – an egg. Pasquale had laid an egg! Pasquale was a Girl! Pasquale was now named, Bianca, which means white in Italian. The days were growing shorter and the nights were getting longer. Many nights it would be to dark to let Duck Duck wander around outside, so I would let her in the house. She was so smart. I’d go out the back door and open her pen. I’d say, “Come on Bianca! Come on Duck Duck,” and she’d waddle over the back door and come in and make her way to the kitchen where she would immediately steal dog food. After that she would head into the living room for TV and resting. After dinner, I would fill the tub for her. She recognized the sound of the water running in the tub and she would always come into the bathroom for her swim and bath. When she was ready to go back outside, she would go to the back door and quack. (Only female ducks quack).
Best Dog, I mean Duck, Ever!
DH takes care of the big dogs so in the evenings when he fed the big dogs he would also feed Bianca and change her water. He’d let her run around while he did it. She was so smart she knew where we kept her food in the shed and she would follow him to the shed to get it. She could recognize the containers that held her corn and her dried meal worms. She’s peck at the meal worms as he was putting them in her bowl. She also recognized the bags her peas and spinach came in. I could lead her anywhere with a bag of peas!
She was very smart and knew “Duck Duck,” “Bianca,” “Come On,” “Inside,” “Go to your pen,” and “Bath.” She listened and obeyed commands better than the dogs! She could recognize the engines of our vehicles and would start honking and quacking with excitement. She was also a good guard duck. Anything or anyone that came in the yard that did not belong there, she would sound the alarm.
She was affectionate in her own duck way. I loved to pet her soft white feathers. She was fun to watch from her silly waddling duck walk, to the way she shook her tail feathers or stretched her magnificent wings, it was a privilege to be a part of her life and someone she trusted. She was graceful and elegant as well as comical and charming. Everyone whoever had the pleasure of meeting her, loved her.
She taught me a lot about ducks and friendship. I was always amazed and surprised by how much I loved that duck. Her life was far too short. My only comfort is knowing that she did have a good life and it was filled with love and adventure…and sweet peas. What more could a duck want?