Empty Nesters

For all the years we’ve lived in our house, there has been a duck couple that visits the yard to splash around in our pool in the month before we open it. Every year, they splash around early in the morning for about a month, then we open the pool for the season and we don’t see them any more.  This year, they decided to stick around longer than usual, then a couple weeks ago we saw the male duck alone and thought there may have been a divorce, but it seems we were in for a surprise.  Ever since I learned that ducks eat slugs, I have wanted to have some as pets.  I hate slugs!  They reproduce at a ridiculous rate and leave ugly trails on my veggies… and they’re slugs.  I’ve tried all the usual methods to get rid of them, beer traps (who has the time to refill and empty them daily), copper strips (way too expensive) and have settled on slug bait which is supposed to work even after it rains.  I’d still prefer a much more satisfying method of removing them from the yard than just having the slugs stop eating and disappear.  Every year when the ducks showed up, I would hope that they’d stick around for a while to help whittle down the slug population, but every year, they flew away and I was left on my own to deal with the slugs.


Recently, The Hubs joined a running club that runs super early on the weekends.  So, while he was doing one of their runs, I took The Kid for a 3-mile walk around the neighborhood to keep him entertained.  It was supposed to be just 2 miles, but then I realized I forgot to ask The Hubs to buy a paper on his way and he’s usually way too sweaty for stores after running.  It felt like a big hassle to take The Kid out of the stroller and get the pocketbook then load up the car so we just walked to the store to get the paper too.  When I got back to the house the first time to get change out of my car for the paper, I leaned down to straighten some fava bean plants that fell over.  All of a sudden there was flapping about a foot away from my face and a blur flew by me.  I screamed way too loud for 8am on a weekend morning and backed up with The Kid.  I saw a lady duck flying away and looked down to see a nice collection of eggs where she was sitting.  It took me a minute to figure out how I missed her, then it seemed really obvious why the female birds all look like dirt and the male birds who don’t have to hide with the eggs have the bright colors.

I was so happy about my new little duck family and checked on them (from afar) almost daily. Unfortunately, about a week later, I went to check on my little friend and she was gone and so were her eggs.  I’m guessing the eggs became dinner for one of the neighborhood animals.  The good and bad thing about our neighborhood is that there is a diversity of wildlife.  There’s never a dull moment with the hawks, cranes, blue jays,  outdoor cats, etc.  preying on the ducks, frogs, woodpeckers, finches, hummingbirds, etc.  I won’t even get into the madness of the insect populations.  I was at least fortunate that I have been spared explaining the nature cycle to The Kid, but I’m going to have to come up with something better than, “Well, birds eat birds.”  That’s probably not going to cut it.  Well, it looks like I won’t be growing my duck family this year as I hoped, but hopefully my duck familly will return again next year and chose a better hiding spot for their babies so we can try this again.  I need a duck army to defeat the empire the slugs are trying to build in my yard.