Mothers

On Mother’s Day I saw the merganser ducklings for the first time.

I was on Washington Way, a footpath that runs parallel to the San Lorenzo River. There was the female, in a cloud of young ones. The common merganser ducklings where actively diving and foraging so it was hard to get an accurate count but I estimated I counted 12 heads.

Common merganser nests in cavities near water and females may lay 6 to 13 eggs. The hatchlings may stay in the nest for a day and then the downy young jump out of the nesting cavity and they immediately can swim and hunt for themselves. No failures to launch in the merganser world.

The next day, on my daily walk, I saw the wood duck family from Washington Way. They were foraging on Middle Beach. The group included two adult males, a female, and three ducklings.

The wood ducks with two of their three ducklings. The ducklings were actively foraging on their own on Middle Beach.
The male wood duck is considered to be the most beautiful duck in North America, if not the world. There’s a lot going on with this duck.

Later that day, at about four in the afternoon there was a late spring rain. I stood at the backdoor, looking out past the deck and the trees towards the river and I wondered how the wood duck ducklings were handling their first rain.

So I did want I always did when I am inspired by the natural world: I wrote a poem and did a sketch. What else should I have done? (As Mary Oliver would have asked).

Mother

To the three wood
duck ducklings on
the river, this was
their first rain.

Did it seem odd
to them that it
was wet from above
as well as below?

Did they wonder
if the whole world
was river?

I imagine that
before they got
lost in thought
(as much as ducks
get lost in thought)

mother presented
her downy breast
and they sought shelter
before an answer came.

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