Death of a Duck

I watched a duck die last Thursday.  It took the better part of the day, from about 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  It kinda put a damper on my day – sad and sobering – obviously a worse day for the duck.

I first saw it a little after 6:30 AM.  I was drawing water for my coffee maker and through my kitchen window noticed a black Muscovy duck and a large snapping turtle resting near the lake shore.  I didn’t pay it much mind because there are frequently birds and turtles on my lawn in the morning.

But a little later when I was rinsing the breakfast dishes in the sink I saw that the turtle was gone but the duck was now lying flat in the grass – a very unusual position.  And every few minutes its body convulsed.  It was obvious that the duck was dying.  I don’t know what happened, whether the duck had been attacked by another bird or a turtle, or if it had just suddenly become  ill.

I checked out the window several times during the morning and early afternoon.  The duck was still alive and continuing to convulse but progressively less violently.  All day long other birds and turtles showed up on the lawn, but none paid the poor duck any attention.  Finally, just at 4:00 PM I looked out the window and noted that the duck was still.  I figured that I would go out Friday morning with a rake and push the body into the lake.  I didn’t know how else to dispose of it.  I didn’t want to put it in a trash bag and hold it until trash day.

But, instead, Mother Nature had other plans.  About two hours later when I took my dinner dishes to the sink to rinse and load  into the dishwasher, there in the back yard a vulture was feasting on the recently departed duck.  Vultures are magnificently beautiful birds in flight, but unbelievably ugly up close!  There was little left of the duck – the rib cage and black feathers at each end.  My raking job was going to be easier in the morning.

But, Friday morning after my unpleasant awakening by the clock radio (described in my previous post) I got another surprise.  There were three vultures doing a cleanup job.  I took the following  photo from the window.  I didn’t want to disturb them at work.They did a thorough job.  I took this photo after they left.  There was nothing left of the duck but some feathers and what appeared to be the esophagus.  The bones were totally gone.

I still feel a little sad about this – witnessing death is a bit of a downer.  But I must say that I am quite impressed with Mother Nature’s recycling!


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