06 July 2009

Misplaced Maternal Mallard a Midtown Success

Mallards have come and some other mallards have flown away time and again from a midtown park, but this year there has been a particular hen mallard which has been a magnificent success living in a metropolitan setting a magnitude of miles from any marsh or wetland where most of her clan might spend the breeding season after the usual period of migration.

During the now forgotten winter at a local park of some inconsiderate magnitude, there have been different mallards present in various numbers, especially when the frigid winds of winter freeze the water at most other places, except perhaps for the minute Shadow Lake. During mid-January this year, there were a bunch, including about 55 on one winter's day when the temperature was in the minus-degrees, or a few meaningful marks below zero in degrees. Numbers of these waterfowl continued to occur through early February and even into early and mid-March.

Then their numbers dropped into the single digits - eventually more than the temperatures of weather - and by mid-April, there were just two remaining as a pair. A drake and his better half were noted, then last seen along Wood Creek, just south of the arterial Dodge Street thoroughfare through the city, west beyond the muddy Missouri river, at the end of April's mighty spring splendor. They next couple of weeks, only the gaudy male was noted in the park environs, and the reason became apparent in a short time, because the hen Mallard had other duties which required her utmost attention, so she preferred to be unseen at the park scene because of her maternal duties.

Her set of eggs had to be carefully nurtured and cared for in a place wrought with a multitude of dangers. There were people that could disturb her care without knowing what their actions might mean. Dangerous dogs of so many varieties would be running loose - without being on a leash as required by a city ordinance - and might lunge at any wild fowl, which could certainly cause more than minimal harm, perhaps even death or fatal injury. Raccoons would also appreciate finding some fresh eggs as the orbs would be an especially tasty treat to eat, as these predators would consume whatever might be found during a night's marauding.

Each of these events might not be any match for what a brooding Mallard would prefer.

Momentum of time and ongoing avian moments unknown meandered along and soon there was a profound measure of success for a hen Mallard that so finely nurtured a nest carefully hidden among the vegetation along the so slightly meandering Wood Creek, a slight sliver of woods through midtown.

On the morning of May 23rd, the female Mallard was seen with six itty-bitty ducklings and they were swimming up the creek, seemingly on their way to somewhere. There were mighty obstacles in their path, yet what might this mean?

Nature can make many miscellaneous decisions on the fate of a dedicated duck and her brood so few yet immensely important. [Altered image of Shadow Lake, Elmwood Park]

A week later, the duck's destination became apparent and was obvious, as the whole bunch was swimmingly and subtly enjoying the green-covered waters of Shadow Lake, when on May 30, the mother Mallard and her young were all seen at the scene, trying to be somewhat inconspicuous among the haunts, along the shore and among some of the woody snags that occur at this bit of a special wetland.

This was the ongoing local haven for Mrs. Mallard and her brood. The mighty seven were noted again in June, on the 4th, the 12th, the 18th and 29th.

It was obvious on the last date for the first month of this summer among many, why this was such an especial place to raise some ducklings that would not know what hazardous measures life could throw forth. The growing ducks were partially covered in green ... because as they ate the nourishing bits of seemingly microscopic pondweed - without melodrama - so pervasive and dramatic in magnanimous yet subtle color, some of the plant-life clung onto them in more than one way. The vegetation stuck to the birds' feathers as they submersed their heads to feed.

Heh mallards, there is some pondweed clinging to your head!

In an appropriate, and subtle birdly celebration for the July 4th holiday weekend this year, the mallard family had splintered, separating and making time at two places.

On the morning of the 5th of July, there were only two juvenile Mallards at Shadow Lake. Where were the others?

Maybe they had moved on, perhaps in a flight of featherly appreciation after their special care by a mom of an avian sort?

Then, after a bundle of moments filled with measurable ponderings, the remainder of the family was seen, moving about so mellifluous on the creek, near a place called wood duck point. Mom and her four juvenile ducklings were doing fine and did not fly away or react in a manner to convey mayhem or any type of miscreant aspect on the part of a momentary watcher. The merry Wood Ducks acted in a similar manner.

May your moments continue as you mature and metamorphose into adult Mallards, and might your meanders mean more time for your mother to mind her brood and nurture them onward, perhaps till they might migrate. Though it seems that the local environs can provide the minutiae necessary for survival in midtown, among so many people oblivious to the magnificent wonders which the success of a maternal Mallard can mean.

There has not been a drake Mallard seen during this entire period. Mr. Mallard must have moved elsewhere so he is not a part of this memoir from a metropolis.

The moments must mean so much to the Mallards. Their mighty saga - this is no myth of unknown splendor - is worthy of some music on the scale of a Mahler or Mozart musical symphony.

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