Duck at rest

July 29, 2022 • 12:30 pm

As I wrote yesterday, one of Audrey’s babies flew away, but didn’t fly very dexterously, as it crashed into the side of the Regenstein Library across the street from Botany Pond, and died from the collision. We were all heartbroken, as it was just starting its voyage into the Big World Outside.  I went across the street to retrieve the body, which was surprisingly hefty, carried it back to the pond, and put it on some steps going down to a building basement so nobody could see it. I than asked about removal, and was told that there was a procedure on campus for disposing of dead animals.

I asked that they do it, told them where the body was, but nothing happened. Late this morning it was still there, and the flies and ants were starting to go after it. It was disturbing on a number of counts; the unfilled three requests, the fact that I had to see it when I went to the pond, the fear that it would attract a predator (we have coyotes around campus), and the nagging feeling that, after having helped raise this duck, we were treating it disrespectfully.

I’m not religious, but when a Team Duck member volunteered to take it home and give it a proper burial in her backyard, I thought that was a great solution.

And so it is done. Here’s where the duck lies, underground and covered with a handpainted stone. My mental epitaph is this:

“Here’s lies a beautiful unnamed mallard, gone too young, and known but to Mother Nature”.

It rests in the shade, under a tree, and has a lovely headstone. This is all we could do.

Three more juveniles are gone today, undoubtedly flying away during the night. They always leave before dawn, which of course can lead them into colliding with buildings.

13 thoughts on “Duck at rest

  1. As Oscar Wilde wrote in The Canterville Ghost:

    “Far away beyond the pine-woods,” he answered, in a low, dreamy voice, “there is a little garden. There the grass grows long and deep, there are the great white stars of the hemlock flower, there the nightingale sings all night long. All night long he sings, and the cold crystal moon looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its giant arms over the sleepers.”

    Virginia’s eyes grew dim with tears, and she hid her face in her hands.

    “You mean the Garden of Death,” she whispered.

    “Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of death’s house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death is.”

  2. Very sad.

    Animals of nocturnal variety can dig it up though – I use ample quantities of the plain low cost kitty litter – diatomaceous earth to absorb water and odor. Lasting Pride brand.

    “Don’t ask how I know this” – Unless of course it might help.

    1. ^^^ apologize for how crude this sounds – just sharing what I’ve learned about this difficult responsibility, in hopes to help. No easy way to express it.

  3. How sad. It reminds me of this beautiful quote from Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, “ I was the shadow of the waxwing slain By the false azure in the windowpane;
    I was the smudge of ashen fluff -and I
    Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky.”

  4. I am so sorry. How sad. The poor beautiful young bird. I am so sorry for you. I hope the others are safe and able to successfully fly off and become adults. I think this particular stage of a wild bird’s life is the most difficult to watch; they just seem so fragile and soft when they first venture off alone. The place he’s in looks gorgeous. Rest In Peace, handsome little duck.

  5. So relieved that a Team Duck volunteer was able to come up with the perfect solution despite the sad situation. The good idea likely was a comfort for many of us who have been keeping tabs on the many activities at Botany Pond. Maybe not a bad time for me to express thanks to you professor Coyne and the Duck Team volunteers for the caring and sharing you do. I’ve been looking at the photos and videos and many up dates for a few years and enjoy them, sharing the up and downs with you all.

  6. I have always found comfort in this poem written by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

    Do not stand at my grave and weep;
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there; I did not die.

  7. I’ve always loved this poem by Emily Dickinson, as over the years we and our children raised, loved, and got our hearts broken over the passing of family pets.

    Nobody knows this little Rose —
    It might a pilgrim be
    Did I not take it from the ways
    And lift it up to thee.
    Only a Bee will miss it —
    Only a Butterfly,
    Hastening from far journey —
    On its breast to lie —
    Only a Bird will wonder —
    Only a Breeze will sigh —
    Ah Little Rose — how easy
    For such as thee to die!

  8. Turn Again To Life by Mary Lee Hall

    If I should die and leave you here a while,
    Be not like others sore undone,
    Who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
    For my sake turn again to life and smile,
    Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
    Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
    Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine
    And I perchance may therein comfort you.

  9. A friend had a pet duck I made a gravestone for when I was still a mason. A Fine Duck was the inscription I think…

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