That is not a jerk duck right there, that is ChickHen.
She is looking sad-ish because this morning I went outside and called to her and Cockadoodle Drake (also known as C.Drake) and they came a’flappin for their oats and corn and sunflower seeds. They landed on the street where there is a fake pond (which is also known as a puddle, but it’s pretty deep) and then waddled on over. They ate and I chatted to them about being such good chickens.
Two ducks showed up!
I expected they were a very nice couple from the paddling that had assembled in the cove this morning.
A group of ducks in the air is called a flock but a group of ducks in the water is often referred to as a paddling (and, yes, I know how cool that is to be aware of. Now we can all feel so biologically smaht!)
So anyway, the two ducks arrive on the lawn and I’m all, “Oh, hey guys, there’s plenty come on up!”
And that’s when I should have realized something was amiss, because they hung back and did not come on up.
And ChickHen and C.Drake were starting to quietly talk to each other (and, I assume, me) and they were also eating faster.
So I, being an experienced duck feeder… like at ponds… and knowing ducks happily paddle or walk up together to get snacks (not bread though, I read that is bad for ducks so I would never… well, okay, I was once a member of the ‘save the crusts of your Wonder Bread for the ducks’ brigade but that was when we all thought our grandparents and parents were wicked smaht and knew everything (which was before the internet)).
I figured ducks are totally fine with each other (or other waterfowl), and invited them to come and eat with my chickens, but they would not come closer.
The boy duck lowered his head and charged at C.Drake like a bull!
I looked right away and could see that C.Drake did not have a red blanket (or pockets to hide one in), so he could not have been waving one in the duck’s general direction, and hence there was no reason for the stranger duck to charge at him like a bull.
THEN the stranger girl duck got all flappy and startled ChickHen, who made scared noises and ran a few steps away.
That’s when I realized what I had on my hands.
And when the jerk ducks would bully C.Drake and ChickHen away, they wouldn’t even come close to the oats and corn and seeds because I was there. They’d just look at me like, “You can leave too.”
Which was an attitude.
So I decided to try to have a chat with them, but they were so impolite! They just kept turning their backs to me and walking away while I was talking to them.
When I turned back around, C.Drake and ChickHen were slinking their way back toward me (okay, and the food) and I went back and sat with them. Then the jerk ducks would came back and started their bullying all over again!
I am not biologically naive (thanks, in no small part, to my excellent Wikipedia-based education). I know that right now all the boy ducks are pairing off with the all the girl ducks, and I know that territoriality is a thing when they are trying to figure out where to build their nests. And, yes, I know that the hollows in my big trees make for great nesting spaces, but come at a premium. But none of this should have mattered because, well…
My ducks are chickens.
Also, C.Drake and ChickHen found me first and I am sorry, but I am not feeding the ducks regularly. I don’t have the money for that. I am feeding my dogs and my chickens.
Okay, and also a myriad of songbirds…
Yes, and the squirrels and chipmunks…
Ahem… okay and the occasional raccoon (but that is by accident!)
We are not talking about that rat. That was a long time ago and… well… we just don’t mention him. Ever.
I’m just saying, I’m not in the business of feeding the ducks.
Especially jerk ducks.
So we – C.Drake, ChickHen, and I – handled things this way after the boy jerk duck tugged on C.Drake’s wing (I know! BOUNDARIES!)
I would stand up and walk slowly toward the jerk ducks when they would come close.
They would skitter away.
C.Drake and ChickHen would eat their snacks.
The jerk ducks would try to come at them from a different angle.
C.Drake and ChickHen would start to chirp to each other.
I would stand up and walk slowly toward the jerk ducks.
They would skitter away.
This went on for quite some time and finally I kept walking toward them, for longer than I had been, and they flew to the water to join the others (in, yes, the paddle of ducks).
At that point, ChickHen and C.Drake happily waddled about – as fine chickens do – eating their snacks.
C.Drake even thanked me but tugging on my sweatpants (sure, he may have thought there was an oat on them).
But everyone was just fine.
And, yes, I get the whole ‘ducks being ducks’ and the ‘survival of the fittest’ things.
But, see, that ‘fittest’ thing is kind of complicated if you ask me.
Because, well, first of all my ducks were smart enough to find me and act like the chickens.
They are very nice and friendly and come when I call. So…
That means they are pretty crafty upstairs because they have figured out how to get a steady supply of snacks to augment their diets as they build a family. And…
If they play their cards right, I think they know that this could be a generations-long gig for them. In addition…
They seem grateful to be my chickens.
What’s more, my chickens were acting kind, and definitely seemed to be leaning toward ‘inclusive’.
And the ducks who showed up were jerks.
They also seemed kind of snobby to me (the female was a mean girl for sure).
C.Drake and ChickHen?
And also, in case I haven’t been clear…
Thanks for readin’.
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