The best I can figure is an unknown person probably bought some adorable, fluffy, yellow ducklings for Easter and then when the birds grew bigger, ornery and started pooping all over the yard, the owners snuck into our hamlet under the cover of darkness and released them into the lake. They probably thought it was a match made in heaven. Unfortunately unwanted Easter ducklings tend to end up in trouble. Our resident mallards seem to have sent out a “stay away” vibe because the domestic ducks keep their distance. The white ducks have become a recent topic of concern.
“They’ll become hawk food,” a neighbor stated. “When the lake freezes, that is.”
“They can withstand cold temperatures,” I said.
“They can’t fly,” the neighbor said. “One of them has already been taken down by a snapping turtle. There used to be six now there’s only five.”
“Really?” I exclaimed.
“Really. A lady went to the duck’s rescue and was able to wrench it free from the snapper but by the time she reached the vet it was too late.”
“She fought off a snapper?” I asked. “Was she hurt?”
“Someone can build a hut,” another person suggested.
Good luck getting them in it, I thought. These ducks don’t want anything to do with humans and I don’t think they would abide by being domesticated again. As much as I love ducks I don’t want them as pets. Let alone pets that are “sitting ducks,” so to speak. Maybe the ducks will have a change of heart when the temperature dips.
“Well someone ought to do something or we’ll be digging duck graves.”
The conversation reminded me of years earlier, when we had decided to vacation on Cape Cod for a month and had to bring our pet rabbit with us since no one wanted to take care of it. Who could blame them? We set up an area for the rabbit in the basement of the rented house in part because keeping him in the yard made him raccoon fodder. On our last day on the Cape, as we were packing the car, Robert came upstairs with a solemn face explaining that Violet the rabbit had died.
He nodded. “What are we going to do?”
“Bury it,” I said.
“You can’t just bury an animal.”
“Why not? You did that a lot when you were a kid.”
He shook his head. “Well for one thing I buried lizards and hamsters for Christ’s sake.”
“And for another thing this isn’t our yard. Don’t you think the owners will be suspicious of a fresh pile of dirt on their lawn?”
I thought about how to disguise the mound.
“I also think it’s a health hazard,” he said, as he phoned the only local veterinarian and asked what to do.
I was nervous because it was the end of our vacation and we were low on funds.
“Uh huh…Oh…uh huh…I see…well, okay then,” he said. “Just a minute, I’ll check.”
There was a brief pause as Rob cupped the phone receiver and turned to me. “Well, for three hundred dollars we can have a private cremation and funeral, and for two hundred dollars we can have a private cremation and remains in an urn.”
“Well for thirty dollars we can only get a mass cremation and no remains.”
“Robert!” I screeched.
He uncapped his hand. “Uh, we’ll take the thirty dollar one.”
Which in the end is what we did just before driving back to New York petless. At least the rabbit didn’t die in the hands of a hungry raccoon. In our defense we didn’t buy him for Easter and he was our pet for over seven years. And call me heartless, but I don’t think I would have tried to wrestle a snapping turtle for a duck, even a nice white domestic one. I tend to give snapping turtles a wide berth.
This afternoon I was sitting on the dock after an end of summer swim and a hawk swooped down in front of me and snatched a pretty big fish out of the water. It was precision timing and the normally fast moving fish didn’t have a chance. What kind of chance do five fat, displaced, white ducks have on a field of black ice with hawks circling overhead? I feel for my feathered friends but I’m not getting involved in that one either. I just wish people would stop trying to make their children so damn happy at Easter.
*Easter bunny horror stories: Resist the urge to give rabbits, ducks, chicks