Friday, February 1, 2013

Love Blooms in the Middle of Winter -- A Valentine's Day Duck Wedding?

Love Blooms on Ice. --  Romeo (far right), a mallard drake next to his lady love, Wiggly, a domestic Khaki Campbell.
That tease of spring that dropped by New York City for a couple of days was gone almost as quickly as it arrived, leaving freezing temperatures and 40 MPH wind chills in its wake.

But, during the brief couple of days "spring" was here, it seemed to stir romantic notions in some of our feathered and furry friends.

The other day, a male raccoon was busy following around and cozying up to a female raccoon along the Reservoir.  It may have been the end of January, but there was little doubt the male raccoon's fancy had already turned to thoughts of love.

But, the biggest romantic surprise was to be found at Harlem Mere!

During the recent Arctic cold blast that enveloped the city for more than a week and iced up most of Central Park's lakes and ponds, I had been surprised to find one mallard drake mysteriously hanging with the six domestic (flightless) ducks at Harlem Mere. (see photo.)

The drake had inexplicably elected to stay behind after all the other mallards left the frozen lake in search of open water.

The behavior at the time seemed odd, considering the domestic ducks were seemingly left stranded on a icy lake in which even a tiny pool of water was about to freeze over.

Was the mallard injured, I wondered?  Was he old or ill?

Nothing about the mallard's appearance seemed abnormal.  I could not figure why a wild mallard would not leave with the rest of his flock and instead, elect to stay with a small flock of domestics struggling to maintain open water.

The one thing I never considered was that the drake was in love.

In love with a duck that is not of his kind.

Who is the recipient of this love-struck mallard's undying devotion?

Apparently, Wiggly!

Perhaps, "Romeo" (the mallard) has been awe struck by Wiggly's leadership skills and ability to work hard and prevent the lake from entirely freezing over.

Or, perhaps it is her loud squawks when calling the other ducks to buckle down and work the water.

Or, maybe it is simply the cute and confident way Wiggly waddles around seemingly in total command and control at Harlem Mere.

Whatever the attraction, Romeo has apparently fallen hard. -- So much so, as to forget all the rules about "birds of a feather flocking together" and instead, taking up with one of different feather and color.

How do I know this?

Because wherever Wiggly is, so is Romeo devotedly by her side.

The two "love ducks" were together the other night swimming as a couple on the water and last night they were together hanging with the 4 domestics near one of the embankments. --  This despite the return of the other Harlem Mere mallards during this week's warm spell.

Romeo refuses to leave Wiggly's side come ice, open water or return of his own kind.

As for Wiggly, she appears to be happy being part of a "couple" again.

Wiggly had previously been partner to Brad, the domestic Rouen duck who sadly perished last September.

Though I thought Wiggly would "stay" with Honker, the other Khacki Campbell duck who Brad also organized and embraced, once Brad died, the two female ducks went their separate ways -- despite being the same breed.  (Honker is currently hanging with the mallards, so perhaps she too will find a boyfriend, eventually.)

I am not sure exactly how long Wiggly and Romeo have actually been an item. The clandestine romance might have been occurring a while before I finally noticed, (after all the other mallards left).

But, even then I didn't attribute Romeo's staying with Wiggly (and the other domestics) to love!

"Interracial love" apparently exists in the animal (or bird) kingdom and apparently love can happen in the middle of winter.

Perhaps the next time I go to visit my duck friends, I need to bring a preacher and prepare for a wedding ceremony?

Who cares that its February and the lake is again freezing over.  

Perhaps a Valentine's Day duck wedding is in order?  -- PCA


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