Yesterday afternoon I walked right into an unfolding crisis on Fisher Avenue.
The scene, as I approached, involved a man stopping rush-hour traffic while he retrieved an injured duck from the middle of the road. She and her mate had been paddling in a puddle, when a woman passing by with a dog startled them, and they rose to fly across Fisher. Unfortunately, she didn’t rise high enough, and was smacked by the windshield of a passing car. (Which, incidentally, did not stop.)
The man was holding the duck while the woman with the dog called the Humane Society. The duck had a broken leg and was bleeding a little, but looked okay otherwise. The male duck was standing about 20 feet away, looking forlorn. (Or perhaps I just imagined he was looking forlorn.)
I asked if I could help. And that’s how I ended up with the duck.
She was a lovely duck. Soft and beautiful, with gentle eyes and a bill that looked like it was smiling slightly. I sat on the side of Fisher Avenue with her on my lap, and waited for GC to drive us to the Wild Bird Care Centre.
I felt terrible about leaving her mate alone, but I couldn’t figure out how to lure a perfectly healthy mallard duck into a car with a part-Nova Scotia Duck Toller in it, so we had to leave him behind.
The duck and I got into the car. It’s not every day Rosie gets to see a bleeding duck up close, and she was intrigued. We decided that the best course of action would be to drop Rosie off at my place before going to the Wild Bird Care Centre.
Then GC asked why her neck was hanging over my arm like that, and I said oh, she does that, she’s just resting.
I was very surprised. I honestly didn’t expect her to die. If I’d known she was going to die, I would have left her with at least the comfort of her mate, instead of subjecting her to the stress of a car ride and a Nova Scotia Duck Toller. Maybe that’s what pushed her over the edge. Maybe being separated from her mate while injured was more than she could bear. (Am I anthropomorphizing here?)
At any rate, I had a dead duck in my arms and I felt very sad. We took her body back to her mate. I figured at least he could get some closure, maybe it would help him move on with his life, and he wouldn’t have to wait for her on the edge of Fisher Avenue forever. I laid her body down, still soft and warm, on a patch of grass near him, and walked back to the car. I turned back and saw a teenager trying to mow down the male duck with his bike. That’s when I started crying.
As soon as I got home, I had a shower to wash off the blood and the little green duck bugs, and I threw all my clothes in the washing machine. I woke up at 3:00 this morning and worried about the possibility of having transmitted some wild bird germs to my parrots. You have to be careful about stuff like that.
Don’t you wish this story had a happy ending?