Friday, March 30, 2012


As I watch the webcam of eagles and eaglets (see yesterday's post), I think back to the bird watching we did from our kitchen in Danvers. I'll never forget the day we saw wild ducklings for the first time.  We didn't have a webcam -- just binoculars at our kitchen window.   Here's the story as I wrote it in a column called "Taxis, Buses, and Wild Ducks" (published May 3, 2007):

My mother was fond of birds and had posted bird feeders and nesting boxes around our yard, including a big box on a pole in the pond south of our kitchen windows.  We called it the “wood duck box” and in fact wood ducks did nest in it every year.  We loved to see the colorful feathers on the male wood duck. 

One school morning during breakfast we heard persistent calls from the pond. A female wood duck was swimming back and forth at the base of that pole, calling and calling, looking up towards the hole on the front of the box high above her.  We grabbed binoculars and looked at the hole. A little yellow something was appearing in the hole, and then disappearing!  Ducklings?  We had NEVER seen wild ducklings before.  As we watched in astonishment, one little ball of yellow leaned out of the hole and fell into the water far below, sinking below the surface, and then bobbing up.  The first duckling!  We were beside ourselves with excitement!  The mother duck was also excited, and continued calling and swimming back and forth. Soon a second duckling took the plunge!  And then a third!   Ohhhh!  Such joy!

But I was about to miss my bus to school. My mother gave clear orders: RUN to the bus stop, tell the driver what’s happening, and invite the whole busload to come see the ducklings!  I did as I was told, and soon the bus was parked in front of our little house and the children were at our windows.  We lost count of ducklings somewhere after 14 or 15. The fast movements of ducklings swimming around their mother created a chaotic blur of yellow.  What a thrill to see this sight! How wonderful to have a bus driver who understood the importance of an educational moment!

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