A mere month ago I conducted what I call a Preemptive Rodential Offensive, denuding my orange tree of 700-plus oranges to avert our annual summer rat invasion. A rat accompli, the only fauna I’d now have to deal with was our visiting grand dog, Winston.
That was until my husband remarked a week later, “Do you hear quacking?”
We’ve lived in our house for decades and have never had a single duck in our pool, but suddenly a mallard pair, whom we dubbed Quick and Quack (a nod to NPR), decided to make our pool their personal lake.
Winston, of course, went nuts when he saw them but they were (literally) unflappable. “Have at it, big boy,” they seemed to say with barely disguised ennui.
At first we were totally charmed by them. Ducks! How fun! But by day three we couldn’t help but notice that our pool area and pool were sporting alarming amounts of duck excrement giving new meaning to the term “poop deck.” With regret, I called a local wildlife agency for advice about their relocation.
I quickly discovered that wildlife agencies see ducks differently than pool-owners. My wildlife person surmised that they had created a nest somewhere in our backyard. “What luck!” she said. “Baby ducks are so cute! “
I nervously inquired about the gestation for duck eggs and she said 29 days. I thought I could probably live with 29 days of ducks until she added, “and then another 10 weeks until they can fly.” Definitely, she says, have to keep the dog out of the backyard once the baby ducks are born. And btw, we’ll need to put a wood plank at the shallow end of the pool so the baby ducks can get out.
I said, what if the toddler grandchildren want to come and swim? And she said, “Oh, they’ll just LOVE the baby ducks!” One got the impression she was seriously focused on the innate adorableness of infant avians and not on 1) we have a duckling-eating dog 2) we have gardeners with loud mowers incompatible with baby ducks and 3) we (sort of) have a life.
At first the wildlife lady had an ally in Olof, who was totally into the whole miracle of birth thing. That was until he heard that a typical clutch is 12-13 ducklings. Even he had to admit that 15 ducks pooping in our pool for 10 weeks was going to be a biohazard from which we were not likely to recover. It was also mentioned that once you make them feel at home, they come back every year in perpetuity.
When the pool guy showed up a week later he nearly collapsed on the pool deck weeping when he saw the pool. Ducks, he maintained, are harder to get rid of than herpes.
“Can you actually get rid of herpes?” I said.
“No!” he practically sobbed. “And you can’t get rid of ducks either!”
He’d had two other clients with “duck issues” where they’d tried everything under the sun (other than a .22). Makes the pool very hard to clean not to mention extremely unappetizing to swim in. He said we’d look back on the rats as good news.