Sunday, May 30, 2010
Nature is keeping me awake at night with worry and you know who I blame for my sleepless nights? Walt Disney.
Yeah. Because I was raised on those lovely movies where bunnies had eyelashes and skunks that were endearing. Somehow, though, I didn’t make the connection between Bambi’s mother and the dead deer that my father shot and strapped onto the top of the station wagon.
There’s a nest in the cavity of my 100 year old maple tree. Apparently the squirrels that occupied it over the winter have sub-let it to a Wood Duck. I wouldn’t have known this, had I not spotted it running around in a panic underneath my sheets that I hung out on the wash line. Honest to God. A duck, with a cuter than cute duckling, also in a panic, peeping at her webbed heel.
Since when do ducks build nests in trees? My question exactly. Well, according to the go-to-source-for-all-things, i.e. Wikipedia – the Wood Duck builds her nest in tree cavities to keep her ducklings safe from skunks and other predators, sometimes 50 feet off the ground and then when the 16 or so eggs hatch, momma duck pushes them out of the nest and leads them off to water.
And here in lies my worry, uh, make that worries. Let me zoom in on the phrase other predators.
It was just a week ago that I saw three little kittens prowling around my lilacs, and while I am not a cat person, the kittens immediately became something out of a Beatrix Potter tale. I was certain that the only reason they weren’t wearing their little jackets and caps was because they left them on a hook inside their rustic, yet fully appointed home before they went out to play.
I would have picked one up had it not scurried through my fence and into the gap from a missing piece of lattice under my neighbor’s front porch. And, that’s when I started thinking. I thought about what kind of future they would have? Living paw to mouth. Foraging for food in the alley, cold and wet. Beatrix Potter turned into Charles Dickens with a touch of Blade Runner.
I thought about corralling them because that was the only way The Humane Society would be able to put them up for adoption, but then . . . what about their mother? She’d come back after a night out and wonder what happened to the kids and return to her seedy life on the streets? I couldn’t do it.
Uh. Oh. Worry number two: I have a dog. A very fast dog. A retriever. What if he went after the kitties, and he, uh, got a hold of one and treated it like he did when he got hold of my late OvGlove? He ingested most of it, but not before he ripped it to shreds. All I found was the cuff. The rest? Heat-resistant poo.
And, then I shifted my allegiance and went over to the duck side.
The once cute and furry kittens were now The Enemy. The rival gang invading Wood Duck turf, like something out of West Side Story, only instead of Jets and Sharks, I have Kitties and Ducklings all getting ready to rumble and I’m stuck playing the part of Officer Krupke out on the patio, armed with pebbles and a flashlight.
Worry number three: Let’s say the ducklings all survive and it’s time for mom to lead them to water. Water? The nearest body of water is the Milwaukee River – at least a mile away – and to get to that body of water, she’s going to have to cross National Avenue. What was she thinking? Why my tree? In my yard? With my dog? Obviously her real estate agent didn’t sell her on the mantra: Location. Location. Location.
The Wild Animal Rescue lady who I phoned and left an anxiety riddled message called back and gave me some peace of mind. “Not to worry, not to worry. Momma duck knows what she’s doing. She picked your tree because it suited her. Wood Ducks pick the same nesting site where they were born, so, she survived from last year. Sometimes you’ve just got to have faith in nature.”
Easy for her to say. I’ve got no problem with nature. It’s the buses, semis and drivers on cell phones that I don’t have faith in. This is why I have been known to risk my life and limb, dodging logging trucks, to help a turtle get to the other side of a two-lane highway.
Well, guess what? I let the dog out this morning, took up my post on the patio and turns out the squirrels were back in the hole. The ducks have moved on. So, I can breath easy. Until next year.
Posted by mel miskimen at 10:59 AM