Fourteen times – the Charm!

By Tom Loucks

For fourteen years we have been blessed with a pair of mallards coming to see us and visit our water feature in April or May – we like to presume they’re the same pair, again and again.

Their routine seems to be the same, most years. They enter our back yard from the north of the house, waddle over to the pond on the east side, take a swim, and then waddle out the south side and onward. Some years they repeat this twice or thrice, and then they are gone till the following year.

This year (April 2021), we have been watching the drake stand guard while the hen goes for a swim.

They generally take turns, so next the hen stands guard while the drake takes a dip.

This next part is funny – the drake determines that he’s had enough, stands tall on his toes at the edge of the pond, flaps his wings, and heads down to the lawn and starts walking. The hen looks at him, exits the pond, looks again, and then returns for yet another swim. They did this several times before the drake convinced her it was time to leave.

Then we saw some new behavior – to exit the pool, the hen swam to the edge, hooked her bill on the curb, and pulled herself out. My photo just misses the pulling action as she raises her head after pulling.

Next, the hen came down to the lawn, joined the drake, and they grazed our grass for a few moments.

But, after a walk in the grass, they both decided to take another swim. Back up to the pool they went, and this time the drake would actually tip over and sample the bottom of the pool while the hen did all the swimming.

Then they must have agreed it was indeed time to move on. Both mallards came out of the water and, as the drake headed back down to the lawn, the female first grabbed a drink.

She practiced her best one-legged Arabesque on the edge of the pool before descending to join the drake on the lawn – she was far more relaxed about the whole routine.

Then we’re not sure what happened next: maybe a neighbor’s dog came out, but all of a sudden, they burst into flight and were gone.