Thursday, May 7, 2009

These ducklings have imprinted Sue Greeley, in the absence of their birth mother and follow her relentlessly

The ducklings themselves have attracted the attention of Arboretum regular Jasper and his mother.

When my children, boys, were 4 and 5 (in 1992), I brought them to the Arboretum to show them a duck's nest on a mulch pile at the top of China Valley. When we got to the nest the mother duck was very unhappy as a black snake (~5') was coiled around the nest and had already swallowed 2 eggs. The eggs hadn't broken and we squeezed them backwards out of the snakes mouth. We decided to move the snake across the Arboretum. Of course it probably returned the same day but....

Anyway, I positioned the boys in the back seat of the clunky Isuzu Trooper and gave the head of the snake to Max and the tail to Peter. Their faces were as readable as faces can be; they clearly had serious reservations, but they were young, I was the Dad, and they still trusted me. With some trepidation, they would give this a try. Karen's face was equally expressive; their mother was not happy. Clearly if anything went wrong I was in big trouble! All went well; the snake lay passively for the short trip to the Boxwood Collection and we released him/her in the Tree Peonies. Whether there is a causal relation or not, I don't know, but the boys never did had any issues with snakes.

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