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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

The Survivors--Self-Organization At Work

Puddles and MomKhaki

For August 21--on vacation
It was a good week for the ducklings, until Sunday, when Mudsy came out of the nest looking like the same fuzz ball she had been all week. Her nestmate bounced out looking like a miniature duck. Something was wrong.

Mudsy sat around all day, took refuge in the tiny nest box near their small pond, got caught behind a brick when thunder scared her, was rescued when Mom got excited, and I put her into the nest box, where she remained to die. Her crop seemed full and she refused to eat, just drank and swam and waddled a bit here and there during the day, then napped away her life.

Mom Ms. Khaki came out of the nest box at dusk to tell me something was very wrong, and I buried Mudsy in the family hillock How could such a perfect little creature be dead? I had such high hopes for her when she survived a full peeling, able to peck only a small hole in her shell at 28 days. Maybe she wasn't as perfect as she looked. Life is one of the most complex miracles in nature; when it works we are awestruck, thanking Creation for such an intricate schedule of self-organizing biochemistry and physics.

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