[gardeners] OT -- just ducky

margaret lauterbach (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Tue, 23 Mar 1999 07:23:33 -0700

Saturday morning, Chuck came in to announce that there were seven mallards
in our driveway, pigging out on cracked corn. The last time I bought "hen
scratch" for quail, sparrows, linnets, etc., the cashier apparently added
cracked corn to my list and I didn't notice it.  After he emptied the bag
into tubs, he asked why I bought it.  I said I hadn't intended to, but as
it turns out, it's useful for the mallards.  We don't live near "duck"
water, but for the past 6 years or so, we've had a pair of mallards feeding
among the quail just before nesting season.  Last year when the hens were
warming eggs, I did see two drakes in our driveway.  How we got to seven
mystifies me.  

I went into the kitchen, glanced out the kitchen window, then ran into the
other room to tell Chuck there was a huge balloon in back of our back
fence.  He went out and watched the guys deflate a very colorful hot air
balloon in the vacant lot in back of us.  It's a wonder we didn't hear it
passing overhead.  We've had a number pass overhead, flying low, over the
years, and you certainly can hear them turn on the gas. 

Chuck went to Rotary Club early this morning (they meet at 7 a.m.), and
said he'd have to search for a new tub of black oil sunflower seed, so he'd
feed birds after he got home, about 8:30.  I opened the drapery, and there
was a tableau of seven mallards, spread over the lawn and some standing in
the street.  I opened the garage door, sending most of them flying, and
threw out cracked corn and bird seed.  They'll be back. We have
ground-level bird baths, and there have been times they'd stand in the
water (I guess cooling their orange ankles) or lie down in it, overflowing
the birdbath all around with duck.  I wish they'd range further afield in
my yard, to gobble slugs (they are out, saw the first slime trail
yesterday).  The quail eat insects, but they are more interested in eating
any lettuce that germinates, unfortunately.  And after we feed them all
winter!  Don't knock sparrows.  I watched one systematically eat every seed
off a dandelion seed head. Well, off to plantity plantity, plantity.
Margaret L