I first saw those ducks from a distance and did I ever rejoice, hoping against hope it signaled the triumphant return of the Bickley’s Pond white duck from two winters ago. You may remember my endless fretting over that much maligned creature. Despite his nonstop efforts, he was never able to assimilate into the clan of web-footed cousins around our cove. The sweet mallards gave it their best, making room when he insisted on joining their cozy twosome. (It was short-lived.) The Canada Geese not only shunned him—they mocked him in a vociferous and hateful way. Eventually the entire duck B.P. population grew so weary of the misfit they abandoned him completely, flying on to other waters and leaving him here, all alone on Bickley’s Pond.
For weeks it stayed that way, that forlorn creature swimming solo, not a friend (or foe) in sight. And then one sad day when I looked out to the pond I noticed there was no duck at all. My heart broke a little more when later I heard a neighbor say (and I swear this is the truth) that the last time they saw that duck he had made his way up the hill from the water and was heading toward the gate, waddling right down the middle of our neighborhood’s main road.
And so you can see why my heart leapt at this Spring’s sighting of not just one white duck, but two. Two white ducks, mirror images, so attached to each other that whether they are on shore or pond, they are never separated by more than a few inches.
I’ve never, ever seen such love and commitment is what I thought as I watched the two from the big window over my kitchen sink. He is so protective! She is so devoted!
What a beautiful way to make your way in this world, knowing there is someone there, always there, who cherishes you, yes—but who also has your back.
I wanted a closer look, and thanks to my camera’s big zoom lens, I was eventually able to get a better view. It was not my misfit white duck, after all, but another kind of creature altogether—and one with such an odd appearance I laughed in spite of myself.
What. Is. That? I wondered, a bit in awe. I ran straight for Google.
The Crested Duck: This fancily-quoiffed duck is descended from the domestic mallard and sports a pouf of feathers growing out of the back of its head. This crest is actually caused by a genetic mutation that duck breeders have selected for. This mutation causes a duck to be born with a gap in its skull, which is filled with a growth of fatty tissue. It’s from this growth that the pouf of feathers sprouts. (source: Animal Planet: Animal Oddities)
By now I have spent countless hours watching this beautiful couple make their home on Bickley’s Pond. In all that time, whether climbing the ledge beneath the trees that cover their nest, or waddling across the greening grass, or criss-crossing from one corner of the lake to the other, I have never seen them more than ten inches apart. How I adore them, this unusual Crested Duck couple. How grateful I am they are here, a constant reminder of the significance of family, the importance of devotion, and the overwhelming power of love.
30 Days of Grace III