Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Strange Visitor

First off, I didn't get a picture. But, if you read on, I think you'll understand why.

Tuesday morning I was getting ready for work. The dogs were busy keeping enemies, real and imagined, at bay. They began alerting, running from window to door to window, with their excited "Someone is in our yard" energy.

This body language used to mean something serious, like a strange car in the driveway. Later, it came to include a warning that a dog or the neighbor's Guinea Fowl (which they hate) are in the yard and MUST be chased away immediately. Now, it also means someone is jogging in front of the house, or I have left the car in the driveway instead of putting in the garage and they just noticed it, or the tree is blowing in the wind. So, now I am not as impressed when they go into Protect Mode.

I glanced out the windows. No dogs, joggers, Guinea fowl or autos in sight. I ignored them.

I noticed the purple martin colony was also distressed. They flew around in wide loops over the garage, returning to their nesting sites, only to return as a flock to the same area. Something was bothering them, too. Maybe a snake?

Holly became more frantic. "Mom, Mom, Mom," she said, "Look here, here, here, out THIS window. It's HERE! Come, look, see. I'm not making this up. Really. Come here, here, here," she telegraphed with her tail.

I looked more closely out the side window, and saw something moving in the daylilies (and weeds) along the garage. Something was definitely there. Something gray-brown and alive.

My first thought was the dreaded baby groundhog had decided to stay, but then I noticed the unmistakable white eye ring.

It was a female Wood Duck! (Thank you, Tony Mitra, for this photo I found on

I went outside with my camera, intending to sneak up on her and photograph her for the blog. She had other ideas. She scurried out of the cover and headed into the open yard. It was then I realized she couldn't fly. She ran along the ground, darting left and right and flapping mightily, but could not achieve any lift.

Despite being late for work already, I put down the camera, and went in search of a large beach towel and a cat carrier. I intended to throw the towel over her and shove her in the cage till I could get her to a rehabber. When I came back, she was gone. I saw some movement in the brushy edge between my yard and the ditch alongside the road, and assumed she was there. Since the brush includes Russian olive, with its sharp thorns, I left her there.

We had bad storms Monday night, and I wonder if she was knocked out of her tree. I wonder how badly she was injured. Despite not being able to fly, she didn't appear to have any broken wings. I wonder if she was nesting near by or has young. I keep looking for her, but haven't seen her since.

I hope she is OK.

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