A Fourth of July Duck Dynasty
It was a beautiful July 4th evening back in 2009. The sounds of distant fireworks were in the air. The sky was taking on that beautiful pinkish hue. I had a roaring fire going in our outdoor patio Chiminea. My wife and I were relaxing in our lawn chairs enjoying the weather and conversation about the day’s activities. Our home backs up to a small lake. There were the usual parade of ducks swimming in the lake that evening. All of a sudden, my wife lunged forward in her chair and exclaimed, “See? I told you that those white ducks were mean!"
Yes she had told me. Almost daily, looking out our bedroom window, first thing in the morning she would tell me that the white ducks in the lake behind our home were mean. My wife had become an expert on duck personalities and could even identify who the two main trouble makers were.
I will admit this. The ducks did make a horrible clatter that broke our state of bliss while we chatted. There were two common looking white ducks that were quacking and squawking and closing in on this poor black duck. They were really entertaining to watch. I could start to see why my wife had become fascinated with these ducks .The two white ducks were not only chasing the black duck, they were positioning themselves to box that black duck in. And the black duck was frantically “running away” and was employing avoidance maneuvers. I really did find this to be amazing. It was like watching the Nature Channel, without a television. I know this will sound mean, but it was hilarious watching these ducks effortlessly gliding across the lake playing duck-duck-goose, while all the while you knew underneath the water; their webbed feet were paddling like crazy. Then the one white duck overtook the black duck, and actually pecked him (or her, how am I supposed to know?) on the back!
If it looks like a duck...
Now. I’m hooked. I knew right then that I had to do an article about this. What was I to surmise? Are all white ducks in Meadow Lakes bullies? Did the black duck do something to the white ducks that made them mad?
So, I left a beautiful sunset-pink sky, a perfect outdoor romantic fire, and the most beautiful woman that I cannot live without,to go inside to start writing. Writing about ducks! Aren’t I romantic? Dumb ducks! Crazy me !
The white ducks are actually Pekin Ducks.1 They are the most common and domesticated duck in the USA. They are used for egg production and their meat. After looking at a long history of their ancestry, I’ll just say they originated in Beijing China in the 1800’s. In 1873, a mere nine ducks were exported from China to Long Island, New York. So this duck is also referred to as a Long Island duck.2 They can be recognized by their yellow beak and creamy white plumage, with orange shanks and toes. I recently looked up some more information about these ducks, and Wikipedia said fully mature adult Pekin ducks weigh between 8 and 11 pounds in captivity. Their average lifespan is about 9 to 12 years.
Also, according to William F. Dean, Ph.D. at Cornell University, common ducks are believed to have originated from the Mallard. Some of the better known breeds of common ducks include the Pekin duck. Pekin ducks grow rapidly, reaching approximately 90% of their adult weight at 7 weeks of age, in a controlled environment where they are properly fed. It is not uncommon for commercially grown Pekin ducks to weigh 7 lbs. at 7 weeks of age. This makes them an ideal choice for a meat-type breed. Their growth rate under less favorable conditions will depend upon the quality of the diet they are fed. Just being around humans and relying on them to some extent for food could be the cause of them becoming nervous.
So, what did I conclude? That I am 'quackers' for leaving my wife,a brilliant fire, a cold glass of lemonade and a beautiful sun-set sky. I don’t know why I wanted to find out why the ducks were fighting. Heck, my wife and I have now been married over 40 years and I still do not know why we fight. I remember other Fourth of July holidays for the beautiful fireworks I saw, others for the violent storms we had and still others because of our family picnics. This time, I will remember that I ended this Fourth of July wondering why this duck was in such a "fowl" mood.
2) Long Island Genealogy
- Birding and Wild Birds
Information on birding and wild birds including bird profiles, necessary supplies, bird identification, attracting birds, birdfeeders, birdhouses, birding travel and bird conservation.