For one thing they react to your appearance in their yard as if you were the Gestapo, even those you raised by hand, gently and lovingly, from ducklinghood.
For another thing, ducks are horrible to one another. By means of ungentle pecks on the neck, they are prone to designating one member of the group persona non grata and exiling him/her to the far end of the duck yard.
They are also fair weather friends with no apparent loyalty to their former boon companions.
Take Aflac, for instance. Aflac (who has virtually no traits in common with the famous insurance duck) was the first to be adopted by my daughter and family. In the beginning he was friendly, following us around, eating out of our hands, etc. He seemed lonely, though, so Q-Tip, a crested male, was purchased and introduced as a companion. This worked out fairly well and the two became fast friends.
Then my family decided to engage in serious duck farming. Thus, three fluffy yellow ducklings arrived, grew to adulthood and -- though my family had hoped for three females -- one of the threesome was a male named Siren.
Well, Siren proceeded to rip feathers from poor Aflac's neck and cast him out of the flock to waddle bare-necked and friendless on the periphery of the family circle.
"What about Q-Tip?" you ask. "Didn't Q-Tip stand by his hapless friend?" NOT AT ALL!
Q-Tip switched his allegiance to Siren without the slightest twinge of conscience or blush of shame, and followed his new boss around like a proper lackey.
Then Siren died (and I won't go into why or how this happened). Anyhow for a brief time, a happy foursome prevailed. Aflac was now part of the group, though his acceptance made him less friendly to his human caregivers. Thinking, perhaps, to demonstrate one hundred percent allegiance to his own kind, he took to rushing at us and pecking at our toes.
And then it was Sweetpea's turn to be exiled. Sweetpea is a vociferous, but generally sweet-natured, female who has been known, on occasion, to lay her eggs in the duckpond.
Why has dear, benighted Sweetpea become the latest target of ostracism?
Because Q-Tip, having added bullying next to disloyalty on his defects-of-character list, has so decreed.
Thus, it is Sweetpea's turn to waddle in lonely isolation outside the avian circle of love.
|Sweetpea, the new pariah|
It is now late winter here in the mountains of North-central New Mexico. Most of the (unspeakably filthy) snow in my daughter's back yard has given way to mud. The ducks' section of the property is especially mudluscious. Fragments of straw and bits of vegetable matter mingle with wet adobe soil, along with copious droplets of avian poo.
"There wasn't any duck poo in Mordor," my son-in-law contradicted.
"Yes, there was but Tolkien left it out for fear of alienating his readers," I contradicted back.
Meanwhile the ducks drink from the same murky puddles in which they bathe and poo -- all except poor Sweetpea who hovers nearby, hoping, no doubt, to steal a drop or two from the fetid, reeking ponds of the Dark Lord.