Mary Schmich’s new Tribune column on my ducks

March 26, 2021 • 9:00 am

On Wednesday, famed columnist Mary Schmich, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her Chicago Tribune columns, came to Botany Pond with Trib photographer Antonio Perez. I had emailed her that Honey and Dorothy had arrived, and she wanted to continue her series (two last year: here and here) on the remarkable duck who’s come here five years in a row. (I think Honey now deserves an honorary degree from the University of Chicago!)

And so Mary wrote a great column (below) in which Honey gets top billing, so to speak. I was not expecting her to want to write another piece, but she told me that Honey’s tale is a great human interest story and she’s gotten tons of positive feedback on it. You can access the column here, or by clicking on the screenshot below. If for some reason you’re out of town and/or paywalled, judicious inquiry can yield the piece.

I am grateful to Mary for taking an interest and writing such heartwarming stuff, and also to Mr. Perez for his photos. (One is shown below, which shows Honey’s distinctive bill patterns.) The U of C facilities people, of course, have been instrumental in protecting the ducks and ducklings.

(One is shown below, which shows Honey’s distinctive bill patterns.)

30 thoughts on “Mary Schmich’s new Tribune column on my ducks

  1. Nice story! I don’t remember hearing about the person attempting to release domestic ducks at the pond.

  2. “I think Honey now deserves an honorary degree from the University of Chicago” – better make it an honorary ducktorate!

    Schmich’s article was great.

      1. Are you sure they haven’t already?
        I thought students had to submit homework by email these decades – raising the problem of incompatible formats and all sorts of new headaches. So “the server ate my homework” must be old hat by now.

  3. Quel bel article Jerry! What a nice column!
    Hoping that all will go well and that you will keep your ears intact!

  4. Wonderful, heart-warming articles. They’ve given me a renewed appreciation of you, Jerry, and of your ducks.

  5. I love reading about the ducks and how much you love them. About that honorary degree … I think she should have a ducktorate.

  6. I said from the start that this was like a soap opera. I’m surprised they haven’t had a local TV news story on it yet (or did they and I missed it?). Maybe once COVID passes!

    If Honey received an honorary degree, what would you have written? “For contributions to the happiness of campus residents and professors” or something similar?

    1. Yes, there was a piece last year on the local news. Honey should also be lauded for spreading her genes in the mallard gene pool. She’s had about 30 of her own offspring in the last four years, and all of those fledged.

      1. Well, the duck world is a better place for Honey having been a part of it, and for you helping it along! Who knows if all 30 of those ducklings would have made it without your dutiful assistance.

        1. No way! Attrition at the pond before I started tending the ducks was probably 50-70% of ducklings dying from predation, starvation, dogs, and the like. As one of my friends said who watched the ducklings years ago, “I learned never to count them, because every day there would be one fewer duckling.”

          1. Your legacy will live on not only in books, interviews, and other academic and popular work, but in your line of duckies 🙂

  7. “This pond,” he [Coyne] said, “is a three-star hotel for ducks.”

    As duck hotels go, it certainly comes with a concierge nonpareil. 🙂

  8. the remarkable duck who’s come here five years in a row

    Not being a birder, I don’t know how ordinary or extra-ordinary this is. But a couple of nights ago while going to the Polish shop I noticed that the “local” mallard and hen had reclaimed their usual spot across the road from the fish and chip shop door – which they’ve been using for at least 3 years to my knowledge. They’re several hundred metres from the river, and I can’t think of any pond in the area – 18-19 century tenement blocks all around – so I wonder where (if) they nest. One day I should nose around, but with at least one crack house in the vicinity, nosing has to be done carefully.
    Out of 70-odd thousand readers here, having not less than two with long-term recurrent quackers would suggest that site fidelity isn’t a wildly rare character.
    I assume the ducks get (got) a substantial diet of chips, batter, and the occasional fragment of deep-fried pizza (I don’t think that chipper did a D/F Mars Bar – never actually used it). Which may not have been particularly duck-friendly or healthy, but they didn’t seem to be starving. I’ve seem locals pulling their dogs onto a short leash as they walk down the street – which is a cul-de-sac with minimal vehicular traffic – so their biggest predatory threat would probably be seagulls and cats, both of which the drake gets very loudly quacky with.
    Regular street theatre.
    But … the chipper has closed up shop with the pandemic and is up for sale, so this may be their last year on the street before having to waddle off to the river.
    Come to think of it – I’ve never seen either of them flying. One chip butty too many? One tiny, wafeer-thiin mint-flavoured butty?

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