Thursday, December 10, 2015

Angry duck

I believe I was ten when we had Angry Duck.  My Dad and I had visited the local petting zoo one afternoon and as he was trying to coax me into leaving, I spied a lone egg on the ground.  It was outside of the fence, as the ducks flew over it from time to time.  I had never seen a duck egg, so it was just huge to me.  I gently scooped it up and carried it home.  The egg was still warm.

My Dad had read in a book or magazine how to make an incubator out of a gallon tin can and a light bulb, like a Crisco can way back when they were actually made of metal.  I haven't a clue where he found the materials, but he was a collector of junk so he probably had them in the shed.  With in a day, we had a tin can with a wooden platform for the egg to rest on, a light bulb for warmth, and a thermometer to make sure the temperature was right.  We marked an "X" on the egg with a pencil, so that we'd know to play mamma duck and turn the egg every so often.  If it got too hot, we'd switch off the bulb for a little while.

Weeks and weeks went by, and every day we checked on the egg.  Every day we'd turn it.  It seemed like an eternity to me and I didn't think that anything was ever going to happen.

Lo and behold, one night my Dad went for the routine egg check, and there was a tiny crack in the egg!!  Movement!!!  And then chirps!!  It was hatching.  We hatched an egg with a tin can and a light bulb!!! We decided to leave it alone for the night.  By noon the next day, it was still struggling to come out, so my Dad helped it a bit.  When I got home from school, I had a new friend.

My Mom called the duck "Chickadee" although it was a duck, so I don't know why.  We kept him in a cardboard box at first. I'd take him out and lie down and hold him, and he'd rest on my shoulder.  Every so often, I'd walk the hall with him and he followed me everywhere I went.

At first we had no idea if Chickadee was male or female.  As he grew, it became obvious.  Chickadee was a male.  A very territorial male.  We couldn't go in the backyard with out being chased.  Chickadee would roost on the fence, and the second he saw any of us, he'd swoop towards us as if to kill.  He'd chase me and quite a few times he'd peck my toes until they bled.  Why, Chickadee?  Why are you doing this to me?? Your mamma??

I guess my Dad finally had enough.  Late one night, or rather early one morning, with out telling anyone, he snatched up Chickadee, put  him in a box, and drove to the very place he had come from.  My Dad tossed our Chickadee over the fence at the petting zoo and hurried off.  The zoo is directly behind the police station, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to get caught there in the dead of night.  We visited Chickadee the next day and it seemed the other ducks were not liking this stranger.  They wouldn't let him eat or drink.  Chickadee was sitting in a corner, panting and beak gaping. I felt so sad for him.

We visited often and over time it seemed he grew to rule the roost.  Other ducks followed him around.  He grew fat and waddled more than a duck should waddle.  It was a running joke that we wondered if the zoo workers ever even noticed their surprise new resident and what they must have said.  Years passed and Chickadee would always come to the fence along with the other ducks to be fed as we walked up.  I would talk to him and always wondered if he recognized us. He would stare at us and say "quack!"

Eventually, one afternoon Chickadee wasn't there anymore.  I was heartbroken when I realized what that meant, and it was different visiting with out him there.   I sure am glad he lived his days in glory at the petting zoo.

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1 comment:

  1. Aww!! What a sweet story! I can imagine your pain when Chickadee wasn't there anymore when you visited the zoo.