Notes From a Fowl Voyeur

 

There is a community pond behind our house, manmade not fancy, perhaps a half acre wide and six foot deep with some grasses and cattails around it and a simple fountain that keeps the ice from freezing completely over in the winter. A relaxing place with the sights and sounds of moving water nestled in the suburban highlands where Colorado prairie meets the foothills of the Rockies.

It’s a magnet for wildlife, both resident and tourist, furred and feathered, and a quiet wait is almost always rewarded with some sort of wild kingdom action. This series of pictures involves a seasonally mated pair of Mallard ducks and a bachelor drake who was looking for love in decidedly the wrong place.

Less than half of waterfowl mate for life, mostly Geese and Swans, and ducks hardly ever. Each season the drakes must seek out and impress a willing hen with their vim and vigor and then assuming luck and a little sparkle they mate over a period of time, eggs are laid, and the male steps back to guard the territory while the hen mothers the containerized progeny.

I’m not certain exactly where I stepped in with camera in this process, but I suspect just before eggs were laid as there was still a boatload of coitus going on. I had even taken to yelling out on occasion, “Why don’t you two get a room?” to zero effect other than eliciting a disdainful glare from my own beloved who growing up in the country found fucking ducks to be about as interesting as watching Winter wheat grow. Conversely, I as a city boy thought it was pretty cool.

One afternoon after a week or two of watching our mated pair playing pinch tickle we noticed another drake Mallard circling above and seeing the game he wanted in. With a sliding splash he landed on the pond and began paddling behind our resident mean-mugging and trash talking him and our boy was giving it back in spades. It was obvious from the tone and timbre of their throaty cat-calls that a fight was brewing.

Trying to describe the next hour or two without hyperbole is difficult but suffice it to say that murder was on both their minds. There was chasing and wing beating, knife edge aerial combat, neck biting and eye gouging, low blows high blows, truly an epic battle. Luckily for the interloper, soft feathered wings don’t make efficient clubs and to the resident’s chagrin, it’s almost impossible for one duck to drown another by holding their head underwater.

 

Each time the resident chased the bachelor into the air I’d think, “That’s it, fight over” but then a few minutes later back came the circling interloper and with a sliding splash the battle was back on. Quite a bit of it was submarine, one diving and then pulling the other down and I can only imagine what evil things their livid anger was giving vent to below the calm surface of our normally peaceful little pond.

Finally after many painful iterations the vanquished bachelor flew off once and for all and our drake immediately herded his little hen into the bushes for a quickie, because after all that’s what it was all about.

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3 thoughts on “Notes From a Fowl Voyeur

  1. Thanks Eliza! Nothing like your wilderness but being in a North/South Flyway we do get a lot of waterfowl. Even Pelicans, Seagulls, and Cormorants which you wouldn’t expect on high plains desert. I appreciate the compliments 8^)

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