Tag Archives: Urban Nest

Easter Sunday Surprise

Easter afternoon finds me walking downtown towards my parents’ house to celebrate with dinner and an egg hunt at our usual 4:00 time. I love living close enough to walk over and decide to take the route past the nest. I am surprised to find Mama Duck surrounded by broken eggshells.

The ducklings hatched on Easter Sunday.

It is early in duckling season. There are no others in the stream. These will be first or second brood. Last year I was out of town and missed them completely. Other years I missed the hatching, as well, even though I was in town. One day they were in the nest, then they were gone.

This time I see the new ducklings in the nest.

Mama Duck protectively covers them with her body as they scurry around behind her under the bush. I imagine they are practicing using their legs for the journey to water. When I peer in for a closer look, she puffs up and begins breathing heavily, gathering them underneath her.

This is the first year I got to see a duckling peeking out from under Mama Duck.

I give her some space to collect everyone before peeking in again. I see three little heads looking back at me. That seems like enough of a gift for the moment, so I continue on my way to the dinner, celebrating life and resurrection.

If you look closely there are three little heads looking out from under Mama Duck.

By Monday evening when Steve and I walk the dog, the nest is empty. There is only a scattering of broken egg shells. Steve suggests walking to the stream. After initial hesitation, I agree.

In the dark I see movement of a mama with her babies on the water.

Thursday finds me with a child home from school. She has a cold and is uncomfortable but not too ill to go on a morning dog walk. We head down to the water in search of the ducks.

Upon arrival, she holds the leash, sending me ahead to check it out first. Then you can hold the leash, and I will go look. I see mama with her babies.


The babies still have fluffy duckling down. They are so cute.

Papa Duck joins them, flanking the side, while Mama protectively guides them towards the water.

The duck family waddles towards the water together.

I keep my distance, watching as they move closer to water. They pause to let the ducklings catch up.

Mama, Papa, and three baby ducklings walk towards the water.

Once all have reached water’s edge, the parents pause, allowing the ducklings to splash a bit before launching. I smile as they swim away and turn to face my youngest child who holds the leash of the dog. She smiles, too.

We walk home together sharing memories of duckling days past.

Mama Duck

She keeps me grounded while faithfully tending her eggs. At last count there were four. Now she is consistently present when I pass by. There may be more. She keeps them hidden.

She offers a destination. I’m going to check on the duck. There is reason to head out for a walk and a reminder that it is enough to do small tasks faithfully.

She sits, rotating on her nest, building it up around her. Sometimes I see a beak, others a tail. Her eye looks out, feathers expand defensively. Small movements grow new things.

With nowhere else to be, she rests, trusting the process going on beneath her. I remember to trust my process, too.

I love mama duck. My kids laugh. I promise them I will not write about her compulsively. Only a little.

So that is what I do this first day of April, April Fools Day. I write about mama duck, because though there are many other things to say, I am tired and my words are few.

I climb onto my nest and sit, waiting, thankful for the gift of tea at a busy day’s end. I am grateful that my ducklings are growing up and that this April Fool’s Day has been kind.

Urban Nest

I discovered the nest last spring while on a walk downtown. I would have missed it completely, had it not been for the erratic behavior of a male Mallard on a nearby patch of mulch. His frantic quacking and wing flapping engaged my curiosity, inviting me to move towards him.

A low bush stood at the edge of the sidewalk. There’s nothing to see here! quacked the duck, running back and forth. Through an opening in the branches, I noticed a female sitting on her nest. This was the cause of the male’s display. He was trying to divert attention from his mate and her clutch of eggs. Instead, he achieved the opposite.

This discovery brought me joy, as I walked home. Each day following, I made sure to walk past the nest and check on the duck. One day all that remained were empty egg shells. The ducklings had hatched, and were led away by their mama. It happened so fast. I did not even get a peek.

Mama duck is back again.

I noticed her last week on one of my walks. Since then she has been spotted both on and off of her nest. There is a pile of yellow eggs she is incubating, numbering upwards of nine, maybe ten. I am eagerly watching and waiting for the ducklings to hatch.

Maybe I will see them this year. Maybe not. Maybe I will have to pretend, once again, one of the many duck families down by the stream is mine.

The odd thing about this nest location is its distance from the stream. I imagine the mama leading her babies across the street to the grassy patch alongside the Catholic Church and down to the water. I wonder if she has a route planned out already? I wonder if traffic will stop when they cross?

Make Way for Ducklings much? This certainly isn’t Boston!

The rhythm of nature brings comfort to me. When uncertainty abounds, I know I can walk and check on my mama friend, and she will be waiting, just as I wait. She will be there until she is not. One day she will move on to the next thing and lead her ducks to water. I, too, will do the next thing.

Until then I enjoy the gift of another spring with her. I bask in the simplicity of watching Mama Duck feather her urban nest, as I work to feather mine. I lean into believing what I have, an indentation of soft earth, some downy feathers, sheltering branches, simple foods, a break in the twilight hours, is enough.

Beautifully, simply enough.