12 November 2005

Where have all the girl ducks gone?

I stopped to sit near the lake while in the park this morning, enjoying the fall leaves and the cool, but not yet cold, weather. As I always do when I look out on the lake, I think of Holden Caulfield's concern about the Central Park ducks, in "The Catcher in the Rye." Throughout the book he wonders where the ducks go in the winter? I want him to know: nowhere. They stay right here, all year 'round. Maybe that wasn't always the case. Maybe global warming has alleviated the need for them to fly south. J.D. Salinger might have just been taking artistic license. Or maybe, as I've always suspected, he just wasn't paying very close attention.

There were more male mallards than females on the lake today, nearly two to one. Usually they are equal, quacking along in their life-bonded pairs. Today, the males were competing for the attention of the females, and it got pretty noisy at times.

The deficiency is probably due to lethal dog activity. In fact, while I sat there, a magnificent red pointer, a bird hunting dog if ever there was one, swam out to an outcropping of grass and rocks where part of the flock was resting. The ducks immediately got back in the water, while he ran around chasing them, splashing in the shallows, and generally looking like he was having a great time.

His ineffectual owner on the shore shouted, "Bobby! Come here Bobby!" as if he were an recalcitrant toddler, rather than a well-trained dog that would probably respond to a firm command.

From across the lake, a flock of geese formed a V and silently swam up on Bobby. When they got close, their honking was ferocious, but Bobby was impervious to their complaints. He was going to stay on those rocks for as long as he was allowed. After 20 minutes or so, his owner finally persuaded him to come ashore -- or, more likely, he realized he wasn't likely to catch up to any of the birds, who had the advantage of flight -- and he swam back.


Anonymous Josh said...

The males do worse when domesticated. In his coq au vin column for "Vogue," Jeffrey Steingarten found that only 1/10th of 1 percent of male chickens were allowed to grow to sexual maturity.

The poultry dating solution? Maybe a turducken mixer.

10:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home