I first became a mother duck on my eleventh birthday. My best friend, Sarah, gave me a plain brown box with holes on the sides. Small peeps rang forth from within. Inside were two baby mallard ducks.

Shannon with the ducklings

They were just a couple days old. The fluffy yellow and dark-brown downy fuzz glowed in the June sun. I was in love. The two soon were following me everywhere. If I got too far ahead they would cry out… peep, peep, PEEP, PEEP… each cry getting louder and more frantic. I loved bringing the little darlings to a little kiddie pool my mom had bought for them. I spent all summer watching them swim, feed, and follow me around.

swimming ducklings

Soon the peeps had an occasional quack mixed in. Brown feathers broke forth, slowly replacing the down. They’d run after me, flapping wings so at times they became momentarily airborne. I loved picking chic-weed for them to eat. The way the two gobbled up bugs with their bills was amazing.

The days were getting shorter. My ducks had beautiful adult plumage. I could tell the sexes now: both were female. We brought them to the pond next to our backyard to live in. I went down there everyday after school. The ducks always greeted me with a happy quacking sound.

Then one cold day it happened. I came, but they were gone. I cried my way home. I worried. Were my babies okay? What about hunters, cars, and other animals? I wished there could be some way of knowing if they were alive.

One morning in mid-spring I awoke to the sound of happy quacking. They came home!

I raised 3 other sets of ducks over the following years. Even though I was the mother, I think I was the one who learned the most from the experiences.

four mostly grown ducks on a board in the pond

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