Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Look out! DUCK!

We bought our wonderful house despite the fact it came with an in-ground pool.  We'd looked at scores of houses (and I'm not kidding--more than 80, I kept track), but this was the only one that "spoke" to us.  Mind you, it was a compromise for me.  I'd always envisioned living in an old farm house, or maybe a Victorian.  This is a contemporary ranch, which I've spent the last 14 years trying to countrify.

And then there's that in-ground pool.  Once the snow melts, I nag until Mr. Ivy pumps the top of the pool cover off.  This year he was on top of it before I could say a word.  ("Good dog, Ubu!")  Then nature conspired against us and it has rained enough for us to consider building an Ark.

Ducks on pool cover I suppose we could pump it thing off in the rain, I mean, I don't understand how the submersible pump works.  I was always taught electricity and water don't mix. Mr. Ivy usually waits for a nice, dry, warm day to do it.  It had better be nice today, because yesterday we had our first (and I hope only) visit from Mr. and Mrs. Duck.
Our neighbor to the south encourages ducks to swim on her pool cover.  She thinks it's cute.  It is not cute when our fowl friends leave their calling cards in the form of excrement.  What are these birds eating?  Steers?

Right now the pool has at least six inches of water on it.  That's just fine for wading say Mr. and Mrs. Duck.  I can see The Money Pit out my office window and ripples in the usually still water alerted me to their presence.  It's annoying to find one or more of the cats watching our little ducky visitors and not say a word to us.  ("Meow" would suffice.)

When I see ducks, I dash out yelling and clapping my hands, letting the know they are not welcome.  They flap their wings and take off, using language that would curdle milk as they tell us just what inhospitable hosts we are.
Rubberduckies But the biggest reason to discourage ducks, besides their calling cards, is the potential for duck deaths.  On two occasions we've had Mama Duck decide our pool would be a fine place to bring up her babies.  The first time this happened Frank was alone, trying to deal with ducklings who could swim faster than he could catch them.  There were eight fatalities that day.

I was angry and upset he hadn't been able to save any of the ducklings.  And then it happened to me.
Ducklings in pool I found you can easily get Mama duck out of the pool, she flaps her wings and goes airborne.  The babies aren't so lucky.  The water is about 6 inches from the concrete deck which may as well be a mile to a baby duck.  While you try to scoop up the ducklings, Mama is on the shore screaming instructions to "stay away from those humans at all costs!"  So you try like mad to fish them out and they swim away, dive underwater, laughing at you the whole time.  This can go on for hours.

Then they start to get tired AND suffer from hypothermia.

Working together, we were able to save three of eight.  Those three were more dead than alive by the time we got them out of the pool.  They laid on the grass for an hour or more before they revived enough for Mama to lead them away.  Meanwhile, five of their siblings lay on the garden compost.  There are few more heartbreaking sights.

So while it sounds mean that we discourage the ducks in the spring, there's method to our madness.  Still, as long as ducks have bird brains, I'm sure we'll have to deal with the situation again.

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