Angel – my duck from heaven was incredibly special. She had certain ways about her I have not seen in any other duck. Let me tell you her story.
How Angel came into our lives
Angel never knew what it was like to have a duck for a mother. Of-course, this is not unlike many birds hatched in an incubator. But they tell us that they bond with whoever they see first after they are hatched. It could be you, or it could be a dog. It doesn’t matter, but whoever it is they will follow them around and want to be with them at all times.
Angel’s mum was a chicken hen. I placed her under the chicken as an afterthought, on the spur of the moment.
You see, I was given a dozen fertile guinea fowl eggs, and as I had a broody chook at the time, I placed them under her. It takes four weeks to for the keets to hatch and as I knew it was the same length for ducks it seemed like a cool idea.
I wouldn’t do it again, but I did it this time.
Seven tiny guinea keets were hatched, and also one little yellow fluffy duckling! I always referred to her as ‘Little Duckie’ and in the end named her so. They were in a big box with a lid, and when I opened it there were all these eyes looking up at me. I found it almost overwhelming.
You can see their lives here… How to Raise Guinea Fowl Keets. You will find Little Duckie there also, with videos taken each week for their first eight weeks.
Who am I?
Well, as it turned out, Little Duckie didn’t really know who or what she was. She would look at her mother and see a chicken hen (a brilliant mother she was too), then she’d look at her siblings and obviously thought she was a guinea fowl keet!
One day I placed a mirror into their enclosure because I’d heard that keets love to look at themselves in the mirror. Wrong move! Little Duckie walked past the mirror and caught a glimpse of her image… she almost freaked! It really frightened her. Who was that?!
On top of that, mother hen (called Whitefeather) decided that no other hen was allowed anywhere near her babies so she attacked the mirror with a vengeance! In no time the mirror was cracked and was relegated to the rubbish bin as a bad move not to be repeated.
I love water more than my siblings
As Little Duckie grew, she used to spend quite a bit of time in her water dish. At first she could float around in there easily, but over the weeks she almost outgrew her dish. It was the only introduction to water she had, as I couldn’t allow her out of the pen to fend for herself.
Of-course, none of the keets ever entered the water. Did she wonder why?
I want to fly like my siblings!
But when the keets were only one week old, they had sufficient feathers in place to fly all over the small enclosure I had placed them in for the first week of their life. I had to work quickly to create a space much bigger for them. The pen they were born in was the best place for them now they were flying so I tried to make it safe in every way.
I had made a small ramp for them to clamber up and in through the door of the box they were hatched in. This worked very well, and even Little Duckie could manage it up there without problem. That is, until one day she fell off the edge and broke the tip of her wing.
The tip of her wing, being broken, set at a strange angle, so once she matured I could always tell her from the other white ducks. When swimming on the dam it looked like a little sail. I don’t believe it ever caused her any discomfort though.
Mum, why can’t I do what they do?
Although the keets were flying and could manage all kinds of tricks, my little duckling was still only covered in down, with not a single flight feather in sight. Sometimes all the keets would fly up on top of the box which caused her to quack loudly as she wanted to also.
Sometimes I felt a little sad for her as I realised her life was not as it should be. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t content. As long as she had her dish of water she was happy.
Into the big, big world
The time came, at eight weeks, that I felt they were ready to come out of their pen into the big, big world. Up until this time, all my other ducks and chickens would come regularly to inspect what was going on in the pen, so they were quite familiar with the birds, and the new ones familiar with the rest of the flock.
I decided to open the pen about one hour before bedtime. They came out and experienced no problems with any of the other birds. I stayed on hand the entire time and waited until mother hen took them all back inside to go to bed.
It was wonderful to watch them as they explored and found new experiences.
I did the same the next day or two, and then finally began to let them out longer and longer. All was going well and I was delighted with all my birds.
You’re a Duck!
It’s hard to remember exactly when it happened, but the first baby that experienced being run off by Mum was the duckling. It was obvious Mum knew exactly what she was, and that she should go off to be with the duck family.
The problem was, she didn’t know she was a duck, so she didn’t automatically gravitate towards them. This left her very confused and a bit lonesome as well.
Hmm… she’s beautiful!
She was only 10 weeks old when Toby, my white Pekin drake… and father, who I’d noticed had been eyeing her off for some time, decided he wanted to mate with this beautiful young bird. I know I remember thinking… ‘oh no… she doesn’t even know she’s a duck yet!’
Well, I guess she got to learn pretty quickly.
What is all this water?
At this time, she had not yet been in the dam. I’d seen her waddle right up to the edge and take a drink. I saw her step into the water, then take another step… and then she started to float a little. ‘Quick, let me out of here!’ It was far too frightening! So much water. She quickly got out and didn’t go back that day.
It took another couple of times of testing the dam waters, and watching the other ducks floating around, before she finally got up the courage to allow herself to float. Then, all of a sudden, she was right. Off she went, and the sheer pleasure of being able to swim took over.
We still need our Mummy!
I felt by now she had herself sorted, but she still had very strong ties with the keets. When the time came that mother hen drove off all the keets to fend for themselves, they were like little children who didn’t know what to do without their mummy. Whitefeather knew they were ready to look after themselves, but they were far less confident.
So Little Duckie became their mum. They all looked to her and followed her wherever she went, except into the dam of-course. But she had it all under control. Gradually as they became more self-sufficient, she would spend the morning with the other ducks on the dam, and then around lunch time, she’d come up and spend the rest of the day with the keets.
She’d come to tell me all about it
Sometimes, if I was out working in the vegetable garden, she would come past me on her way up from the dam. She’d stop and quack out quite a story to me before waddling away to find the keets. I always felt she was telling me all about it, her cares and concerns, her joys and worrisome moments. It was quite a job to take on raising seven siblings, especially seeing she had to learn it all on the run! But it sure was fun to have her come and talk to me that way.
A wonderful mother
As the keets grew and become adult guineas, they had to sort out who was going to mate with who. This is quite a business and takes much effort and time. The girls called out constantly, while the boys were busy chasing each other. Sometimes during the chasing, one of them would end up over the other side of the fence. This was something they found really scary, so they’d call out and run up and down the outside of the fence, helplessly wondering how to get back inside to safe territory.
When this happened, Little Duckie would come waddling as fast as her little legs would allow. She’d go right up to the fence and scold the guinea fowl! ‘What are you doing out there? Don’t you know it’s not safe out there? Come back inside now!’ Quack, quack! Quack, quack!
It was so interesting to see that none of the other ducks took any real notice. None of them went over to help or go crook! They would be aware the guinea fowl was outside the property, but they wouldn’t think for a moment about trying to help. Meanwhile, it was the same for the chickens… it was no bother of theirs so they didn’t stop searching for tasty morsels. Even Mother hen took no notice.
Angel makes a special friend
The second youngest member of my flock was most probably Cheese at the time. When Angel was able to gradually be released of her sibling care, Cheese began to spend time with her.
This was particularly special, as up to then I hardly ever saw Cheese away from her mother, Swiss. Now, on occasions, she would seek out Angel so they could go dabbling around the property together. I never saw Angel seek her out, but always Cheese would come to Angel.
Angel had become too independent to rely on the company of another duck.
Angel – my duck!
I began to take more and more photos of this little wonder, and that’s when I began to realise that most of my photos contained a blue glow all around her body. Of-course, I understand it’s most probably got something to do with her being so white, but I didn’t notice it happen on the other white birds. With her, it happened almost all the time, and I can’t explain why.
I began to call it her ‘aura’, and that’s when I changed her name to Angel.
To me, she was a real angel. Her loving, caring nature was loved, not only by us, but by all the birds here on the property. The rooster even allowed her to nibble at his comb. He’d just stand there enjoying the experience.
I don’t ever remember seeing any problems or arguments happen between her or any of the other birds. Everyone seemed to know she was different and loved her to bits.
The most favoured
She became a real favourite with the drakes. They would mate with her time and again, and quite often, one after the other. Her neck feathers would soon be removed and next they’d cause bleeding and inflict pain.
I usually had to remove her to the hospital (a pen I used for any bird that might need time out) to make sure the drakes couldn’t have her again.
Angel goes back to Heaven
A day came when I had to keep her locked in the hospital. She was there for some time out away from the drakes. There was no problem other than missing a few feathers. I didn’t notice that there was anything wrong with her and she was waddling about just being her happy little self.
The next morning when I went down to let the birds out, there was Angel lying in an odd position near her water dish. I called her name… no response. It was almost impossible to believe she could be dead as there had been not a thing wrong with her that I was aware of. I called again, and then began yelling out her name. I imagined I saw one of her eyes move,so hope rose. But when I finally was able to pick her up is when I fully realised the truth. My little angel had returned from whence she came.
Only those who have had animals that they have loved and lost, could understand the pain I felt in my heart, and the tears I cried.
I will always remember her. These days I like to remember all the wonderful little things she used to do. The way she mothered the keets. The way the rooster would just about let her do anything, and the way she took her position in life so seriously, but so happily. She was always there if one of the keets needed here.
Life dealt her different challenges to what most ducks would ever face, but she became independently strong through it all. Her caring heart came through in little things we noticed on a daily basis.
I don’t believe she had anything but a very happy life, and at the same time, she made everyone around her happy too.
A huge gaping hole was left when she was no longer with us. It was almost like a quietness fell over the property for a time.
Angel – my Duck! Ever remembered! Although I love all my ducks, none of them have found their way into my heart the way you did.
Have you ever had an experience with an animal or bird that had endeared them to you forever? Please share with me as I’d love to hear.