For several years two mallard ducks have come to my bird feeders each Spring for early morning or pre-dusk meals. It took a while to learn their names, but this year – finally – Mabel and Gus! When I see them under the feeders, I feel ridiculously happy. Gus will usually keep watch while Mabel enthusiastically scoops up mixed feed the sparrows and squirrels have scattered. Eventually Gus will eat but he and Mabel are cautious and likely to lift off for no reason apparent to me. After they eat, they head over to the street to see if there is any water in the gutters – the past few days there has been plenty.
Last year I noticed that Mabel tends to determine how long the visits last – at some point she would walk away from the feeders and shake her head vigorously. Gus would quickly move toward her and shake his head in the same fashion. Next, both would shake their heads in unison and suddenly take flight (I observed this many times last Spring). I looked for information about duck communication on the Internet, but came up empty on the subject. Whatever it means, it is sure nice to have them back!
(The pink flamingo is an extra that my neighbor included at the feeder. Mabel seemed puzzled by but interested in it). Please excuse the poor photo quality – it’s hard to get pics of skittish ducks using a phone camera from inside a house through a window screen.