If you are reading this, you have arrived at my new website, marianbeaman.com – welcome! It is still a work in progress.
Another introduction is in order: I have been dying for you to meet my new neighbors who live peacefully on the lake behind our patio. After 5 months living here, we are beginning to get acquainted with them. All of them . . .
- know how to swim
- take deep breaths
- keep themselves clean
- engage in courtship rituals and mate
- huddle together in a peaceful community
- communicate with language
They don’t look at all like us or speak our language. Every one of them has feathers and they talk to each other with a “quegegege” or a “rhaeb, rhaeb,” or “honk-honk” which we have tried to de-cipher. These waterfowl are trying to tell us something. Obviously, we need language lessons.
And, in other ways they have been our teachers.
Lesson 1: They know how to breathe. They can relax.
Birds do not run out of breath. They literally fly into it. To make our lungs expand, we contract our diaphragm. When we relax, the rib cage moves to its regular size and we exhale. Most birds breathe in the opposite way. Their muscular effort expels air, rather than drawing it in. When they relax fresh air is automatically drawn in.
Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Ted Andrews
Lesson 2: They shop locally for organic foods.
Ducks dip into the water to find seeds, roots, insects, and plant leaves. Their Creator has equipped them with fabulous, anatomically constructed dippers: “The duck uses its bill to scoop up mouthfuls of water. The water drains out the sides of the bill, leaving the tiny plants behind. Now the duck can eat the plants without having” to drink gallons of water too! (Mary Ann McDonald DUCKS)
Kenneth Grahame : Author of The Wind in the Willows
All along the backwater, Through the rushes tall, Ducks are a-dabbling, Up tails all!
Lesson 3: They love community life.
Our waterfowl are communal, except for the egret. “Because of its connection to water, [ducks are] linked to feminine energies . . . and to the emotional state of humans.” ~ Animal Speak
My neighbor Jane observes: “See that white duck. It’s really vulnerable. It can’t fly I think because its center of gravity is too low. It has no apparatus for getting airborne. It flutters, rises a few feet and then plops into the water again. The mallard ducks protect it, encircling it, especially at night.”
Lesson 4: The female duck (hen) has a strong maternal instinct.
She lines her nest with down from her breast. When she leaves it to eat or drink, she covers her eggs with down to keep them warm and hide them from crows, foxes, raccoons, snakes, and other predators. ~ Hipp
Lesson 5: Ducks are flexible. They adapt easily to water or air travel.
Water: Duck feet are webbed and work like paddles, pushing them through the water.
Air: They rise to the occasion! As with airplanes, birds’ takeoffs and landings are two of the most critical moments in flight. Birds, like this egret, need a gust of air to help them rise from the water.
Several times a day, I see them get into formation and wait for that special updraft. My guess: the quacking that immediately precedes their takeoff could be translated Ready-Set-Go. You can see what I mean when you click on the short video below:
Lesson 6: They know how to keep clean.
“Ducks have a special oil on their outer feathers. This oil keeps them dry and helps them float on water. The oil comes from a spot near the base of the duck’s tail. The duck spreads the oil when it cleans, or preens its feathers” almost every time it comes out of the water.” ~ Mary Ann McDonald
Lesson 7: They accept outside help.
Every so often, a white truck pulls up to the edge of the lake, and an eco-friendly engineer jumps out, unloads his boat, and sprays the water. (For PH balance? To eliminate mosquitoes?) Although our duck community has no choice in the matter, they don’t seem to mind and continue to thrive.
Human Wisdom from Duck World:
Wise ducks know how to handle their bills.
Women who start out as ugly ducklings don’t become beautiful swans. What they mainly become is confident ducks. They take charge of their lives.
How about you?
Do you remember President Reagan repeating the line after an attempted assassination in March 1981, “Honey, I forgot to duck”?
Ducks and geese populate our lake: Canada geese with black heads and neck and a white chinstrap with body a brownish gray. And mallard ducks, the male with bottle-green head, chocolate brown breast and black rump. ~ Stokes Field Guide to the Birds, Donald and Lillian Stokes
Are there ducks or geese in your neighborhood now – or experiences with them tucked away in your memory?