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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

Two Ducklings' First Day

Day 1 and 2 Ducks Taking To Water

At first I couldn't believe how different the ducklings were from chicks. They seemed too independent, sitting around as if she hadn't gone off to the other side of the pen to greet Mr. Campbell. When mama duck Khaki moved away, their cheeps had a casual low volume, not the desperate ear-splitters that chicks put out--loud and persistent until mama turkey or duck, or whoever was raising them reappeared.

No sooner had they emerged from the nest box into their new world than they jumped into the plant saucer filled with water, took a quick tour underwater around the saucer, and soon learned to jump back out as their mom dipped and preened and flapped her wings. (She was a bit desperate for a bath after setting with such dedication for four weeks.) How could these two damp wiggling heaps be so street smart so soon?

Eventually that first day, they got sleepy and managed to convince Mom to sit down so they could disappear under her wings for a nap. Then one caught a fly, by accident. Some kind of instinct kicked in and snap went the little bill. The new hatchling's eyes opened wide, and she shook her head in delight as she munched it down. The game was on. Catching flies has become a constant delight, aside from snatching at chick feed and dousing it with a beak full of water until one's crops is bulging.

A pattern emerged the second day. When Mom disappeared, would cheep half-heartedly and Mom would run back to them, a bit more anxious than them. Who was supposed to follow whom? Somehow she got them back into the nest box when the sun began to set. Not even turkey had gone in for the night.

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