Sunday, May 5, 2013
As you can see, this is Lake Union. I go there every Saturday morning to watch the sea planes come in. Yesterday was quite breezy, so they had to loop around and approach from the south. All very thrilling. As always, geese were present. There were many, many goslings. Here are some of them.
On a related topic, last week, I was out taking care of my parents' place in Snohomish. It's a rather large expanse of land and house. There were dogs to placate and a cat to medicate and so forth. They have a pond on their property. It's quite small and swampy, but it does actually draw wildlife. There are always a regiment of frogs around. Believe it or not, they actually do say "ribbit." I swear to God. Anyhow, there was also a family of ducks who called the pond home, small as it was. I noticed them last Monday morning. There was a mom, (and I assume) a dad Mallard and six ducklings, who were quite small, but adept in the ways of water as ducks are. Because we're used to favorable outcomes, we just assume that once something or someone is born, they are destined to become an adult. This isn't always the case. After discovering the duck family, I promptly left them alone to do duck things, which was mostly paddling around and nibbling on things. I checked on them again in the afternoon. There were only four ducklings. I figured that I miscounted, but when I tried to do a recount, I nearly tripped over one on the lawn. He was dead. He had perfect little webbed feet, soft downy feathers, a gleam in his dark eyes and a broken neck. I buried him on the bank of the pond. It was a very sad task for me. Though Mallards are very common in the world, no one wants to see something so young perish like that. I have no idea what caused it. There are hawks in the area, but they take what they kill. There are raccoons and weasels and sundry other creatures, but they do the same. It certainly wasn't the dogs or the cat; they were nowhere near the pond. I wish I knew what happened.
The next day, there were only three. I became quite angry with nature in general. Why play such a cruel joke on these ducks? Why bring these ducklings into the world only to kill them off during their first week of life? Well, their numbers held at three for the next two days. My parents returned on Wednesday night. I talked to my mom yesterday and she said that they were gone. I tell myself that they made a journey to a larger pond that's on the neighbor's property. I refuse to believe that all the ducklings were killed by predators and that the duck-parents blew town. I think the surviving ducklings are fine. I really want to believe that.
You know, Snohomish is rural, but it's civilization. You don't expect to witness the struggle for survival in your own backyard. Well, that's exactly what took place. And even though humans are predators and predators kill without remorse, this whole thing makes me feel pretty awful. I mean, who the hell wants to kill ducklings? It turns out that everything does. We see cute little baby animals and every other creature sees an easy meal. I suppose our attitude would be completely different if the choices were killing or starvation. But it's not that way. Nature is harsh. And unfair. And things are tough for ducklings.
Posted by Igor Keller