A few weeks ago a pair of ducks came soaring through the woods into our yard. Hmm, not where we usually see ducks, even though we live overlooking Silver Lake, in Bellingham. It took very little investigation to figure out these were wood ducks, and they were looking for a nest. The male stayed out of sight till they flew off, but mama duck poked around a tree, checking it out for a possible nest site. They soon flew off. Nope, no sale.
But a few days ago, we discovered four tiny squeaking furball wood ducklings emerge from the woods and dash through out yard, around and around the house. We wondered, but saw no sign of a mother duck. We lost sight of two of the ducklings, but the other two headed down the street toward the water.
We followed them, hoping they would find the lake. One turned right, toward the water, the other turned left, and we lost sight of him as well. They run fast!
Down at the shoreline, we spotted one very unhappy duckling, swimming alone in the water, calling in vain for his nest mates, and much more importantly, for his mother. He came back on shore, waddled through the grass and launched himself back into the water, calling out.
We walked along the lake last evening, and saw no sign of any ducks, but they probably would have bene settled in for the night. The more we read, the more concerned we felt for these motherless ducks. Wood ducks nest in trees near or overhanging water, and the hatchlings leap from the tree, their mother urging them to follow her to the water. But these four little guys had no mother anywhere in sight. Did they get separated? Did something happen to their mother? Did they leave the nest without her for other reasons? We will never know.
It’s a tough world out there, but for just a few minutes, we witnessed the determination, strength and courage of four little ducklings following their instincts, headed for water, working to survive.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.