Mr. and Mrs. Mallard

Do ducks have domestic disputes?

She was sitting downtown in the middle of the sidewalk, not moving except maybe to snort quietly in exasperation.

He sat about five feet away, next to the curb. He stood up, shuffled a few steps with his webbed feet, and plopped back down with a sigh.

The duck couple was so quiet that I might not have noticed them if someone walking in front of me hadn’t done a double take. The ducks barely moved, even as dozens of us humans tromped down the sidewalk in between them. The nearest creek or stream was hundreds of feet away.

It was easy to imagine what we would have heard if we could have understood them.

“Every year,” she would have sniffed. “Every year, you do something like this.”

“Mildred, don’t start,” he would have muttered.

“Don’t you shush me, Frank! If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times: I am not going to raise a family where there might be foxes or turtles. I finally found the perfect spot last year, with no foxes and no turtles and plenty of food, but could we stay there? No. And now we’re lost. Lost!”

He would have grumbled and shifted his weight.

“That’s right, Mr. Internal Compass here had to pick a brand new route south for the winter, complete with his brilliant so-called ‘shortcuts.’ I swear, Frank, I’m not moving an inch until you get some decent directions from somebody who knows where the heck we are.”

He would have sighed, stood up, and stretched his legs again before sitting back down, as we humans kept right on walking between them.

Article © 2007 by Michael Duck