The Wild Duck Club of Amica at Arbutus Manor

The year is moving on toward mid-summer.  The ducks that flew away last fall returned this past spring as regular as a clock.  Fascinating thing, this business of instincts.  With people, in many things it drives our lives, rather than the careful thought we imagine.  Our ducks arrive because something drives them to leave their winter quarters and come north.  Once here they attend to business.  Pairing off, they assume the roles of drake and female.  In due time their eggs become baby ducklings.  Those who survive the onslaught of crows grow rapidly towards adulthood.  

One of the spring crop of ducks is smaller than the rest, but just as quick.  Time passes and suddenly we notice that she is hobbling about, seemingly in pain.  It appears that she has been hurt.  We continue to watch and hope for recovery, but her limping and our worrying both persist.  Should she be put out of her suffering?  Maybe, but apparently the duck has her own ideas.

No one can catch her by hand.  The maintenance men are called in.  They bring a catching tool–a long pole with a bag at one end—and a box to hold her when caught.  We watch sadly as they make a successful catch.  They are talking and looking carefully at her foot.  What have they found?

“Aren’t they going to put her in the box?”

“Doesn’t look like it—Look, they’re letting her go!”

The men come in, and we all crowd around.  Before we can speak, one of them does.

“Ladies, listen.  When we finally caught that duck, we found a long piece of wire wound around that poor little thing’s foot.  No wonder she limps!  We’ve removed it and now we’ll have to wait.  If it heals without infection, she is probably home free.  Cross your fingers and hope!”

We do cross our fingers, and whether that makes any difference or not, our duck heals and grows to her adult size along with her siblings.  At the end of the summer she flies off to spend the winter in warmer climes.  In due course spring comes once more, and ducks arrive again.

How we duck watchers scrutinize every flock of ducks that arrives, looking for a smallish female, who limps!  Eventually it happens, and you would have thought we’d won the lottery!  All that summer we watch with affection as she and her mate make their home with us.

Since then I have seen her twice more.

Spring will eventually come to Vancouver again, and ducks will make a return trip as their instincts demand: When possible they return to the place where they were born.  That raises our chances of once more seeing a small, determined, and limping female duck.



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14 Responses to The Wild Duck Club of Amica at Arbutus Manor

  1. So many questions! What year did the duckling appear? How large is the Amica Wild Duck Club? Why did the maintenance people decide that recovery was more likely “in the wild” as opposed to boxed for a brief recovery time?

    This is a lovely little vignette, Marjorie! Looking forward to the next one!


    • Marjorie

      Bruce – The year, 2012. Our unofficial “Club” – Varies according to what is going on, a guess is 10 to 30. As to your last question – again, don’t know, but could be because the wee duck was/is wild, not tame, and certainly independent.

  2. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder

    Oe small deed of kindness, one life saved, a story to tell. Can’t get better than that! I will tell it to my grandchildren. They’re always clamoring for “another story, Oma, please!”

    • Marjorie

      Elfrieda – And this story is dear to me, because it is true – a real little duck, and loving people who did what they could to help her.

  3. An inspiring story, Marjorie, from several standpoints. The lessons we learn from animals run deep in our own animal natures. Your telling of this story gives me hope for a child who limps.

    • Marjorie

      Yes, Laurna – I believe we all can see life from the limping duck’s viewpoint. We and our duck have to tackle life from where we are. Part of what is required is not to give up. I heard a saying once; “To fall down is not failing. We fail if we do not get up and try again.”

  4. Sue McCalla

    Beautiful story Marjorie……
    Keep them coming…I love them all 🙂

  5. Judith Umbach

    Glad to know that you can be “outside” with the ducks, even when the weather keeps us inside. Encourages me that spring will come, even if later than in Vancouver.

    • Marjorie

      Not exactly as you think, Judith. Rainy and cool, and we do our watching from a row of large windows which overlook the place that the ducks like to call their own. We can watch them from the day they arrive in the spring, until they take off in the fall. However, wet as it is, spring and the ducks are both here.

  6. Eleanor Jackson

    I remember these flocks of geese the last time I visited you. A duck watchers club I think would be a lovely club. Nothing to do but watch. You seem pretty confident Spring WILL come this year. I expect you’re right. At least it’s a bit warmer now and I did my first robins this afternoon.

    • Marjorie

      Eleanor – Spring is coming, the trees with flowers have buds, the ducks are back, the days are longer — the temperature unfortunately is lagging behind! Soon now – you’ll see!

  7. Leone Jobson

    I always smile when reading your vignettes. Please keep writing.

    • Marjorie

      Hi Leone – Glad you smile, Leone, and so do I when a memory surfaces which includes the Schrags! I intend to keep on writing as long as the old body lets me. Will probably cut the blogs back to one a month rather than two, if necessary. It depends on how the eyes hold out.
      How about some info on you and your clan? And a few email pictures would be the icing on the cake! Consider the suggestion, you might get one in return.