Duck Crossing

Duck CrossingI grew up in Michigan and although the state is not the land of 10,000 lakes like Minnesota, there’s certainly a lot of water around. Water attracts ducks. Ducks are birds. Birds are fun to watch.

It seems I’ve had a life-long love of birds. As an adult, I had the pleasure of sharing my house with my fine feathered friend, Jake’, whose tale I tell in my book Divatiel: Reflections of a bird’s companion.

I’m told that as a young child, i used to sit on the neighbor’s stoop and sing the theme song to the Chilly Willy cartoon. I still love penguins, probably always will, but I had to look on YouTube for the tune.

Growing up in Detroit, we could see Canadian Geese from time to time as we were so close to the border. But, periodically, ducks have been part of my life.

I attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, and one activity every student can recall is feeding the ducks on the Red Cedar River. Springtime was particularly joyful, watching the Momma ducks taking care of the little ones and teaching them the do’s and don’t’s of life.

But now that I live in Las Vegas, one would think duck sightings would be at a premium here in the desert. Well, perhaps, but I’m blessed to live not too far from one of the few lakes within the Las Vegas Valley.

When I want to take a more scenic route to my destination, I drive by the lake to see where the ducks are. After a rain shower, it always cracks me up that they choose to waddle over to the curb and drink from the puddles in the street rather than the beautiful lake they inhabit.

I’ve had the opportunity to stop traffic to allow a family of ducks to cross the road to safety, reminiscent of my days at MSU. Why they choose to hang out in the rocks across the street from the lake, I have no idea, but they do.

Unfortunately, that can mean trouble for the ducks. From what I understand, birds mate for life, so the loss of a spouse can be heartbreaking.

I’ll never forget the time I came cruising around the corner to see a duck on the grass, wailing at the top of her lungs, surrounded by her duck friends. I looked into the street and discovered that her loved one had been struck by a car and would never come home again.

Birds are such fragile creatures. If you’ve ever had the chance to hold one, you can see they’re practically just skin stretched over a small skeletal structure, plus their feathers. Yet, they have so much heart and bring us such joy.

I cried that day. I knew what that little duck was feeling. I was also impressed with how the duck community rallied round to try to calm her. So much happens in this world that we just don’t always see.

One of my favorite movies – that also makes me cry – is Fly Away Home. It’s based on a true story about a young gal who rescues a family of Canadian geese and not only teaches them to fly but shows them how to migrate south for the winter – all with the help of her Dad.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s great for family night. If you have seen it, maybe it’s time to pop some popcorn and enjoy it again. Don’t forget the tissues. And watch it all the way to the end.

Birds are amazing creatures.

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