Mallard Duck Egg

Yesterday my girls and I took a trip to town to do a little shopping. After lunch, we decided to go to Target to see if there were any new Skylanders. I lucked into the first parking spot in the aisle, and proceeded to get out of my car. The driver’s side door was right next to a little island, freshly mulched with a few low, bushy evergreen shrubs. Sitting there in the mulch was an egg.

It was pale green – the color of an Easter Egg dying experiment gone wrong. I’ve seen it a million times with my girls. They dunk the egg in yellow, then decide on blue, then switch to pink; the result is a sickly greenish grey egg. This was the same color, and the same size and shape of a jumbo chicken egg.

I called to my girls, alerting them about the egg, and they both ran over and gawked at it in amazement. My guess was an old Easter Egg. I mean, Easter had only passed a few weeks back, and it was more conceivable to me that this was an abandoned hard-boiled egg than a bird egg because:

a) There were no trees with nests anywhere around us.
b) Why in the world would an egg be on a mulched parking median in front of Target?

My youngest grabbed a couple of napkins from my glove box and picked the egg up. We all looked at it with a mixture of wonder and puzzlement. Our curiosity getting the best of us, we wanted to crack it, but I did not want to do it by my car. If it was a rotten egg, I didn’t want it smelling up my parking spot. So we took it to a secluded area and passed it from person to person. Nobody wanted to be the one to crack it, so the task was left to Mommy.

Remember, I’m still fully expecting this thing to be a hard-boiled egg.

I gently tossed the egg on the curb of another row of shrubs, and the top cracked. Out oozed clear goo. And a little blood. And some orangey looking stuff.

This was no hard-boiled egg. My youngest began to wail “We killed it! We killed it!” Now, I know full well that no egg left alone in middle of a Target parking lot was a viable bird-to-be, but I still felt kind of shitty. We walked into the store and did our shopping the whole while trying to explain to my youngest that whatever was in the egg was already dead. I told her how animals know when an offspring is defective and how they usually kill it.

But I still felt really crappy. Why did we have to break the egg? Maybe there is some species of fowl that prefers to leave its egg in a sunny and somewhat congested spot, unattended. Maybe we did kill a poor little birdy. Ugh.

When we were leaving the store, the kids went back to look at the egg. Well, poke at the egg with a stick to be more exact. I felt too guilty to return to the scene of the crime and went over to our car. But my curiosity was still nagging at me. Where had that egg come from?

I looked down at the squat, dense little shrub that I had found the egg beside. My mind argued that there was no way anything could have a nest in there…it was too compact…too, well, bushy.

I looked under and saw the dim shape of another egg. I then pulled back a branch or two and saw the metallic blue feathers of a drake duck. I jumped back in surprise, half expecting the duck to fly out and attack me. It was a duck egg!

Some dimwitted duck had decided that a bush on the median beside the very first parking spot at Target was the perfect place to lay her eggs. I called the girls over and told them what I had discovered. I also told them to be respectful and quiet while they spied in the little bush to see the duck sitting on the eggs.

My youngest felt way better after that…she knew there was a nest with other eggs being watched over by daddy duck, and realized that what I told her was probably right. Mom had most likely abandoned a bad egg.

When we got home I had to look it up. I found article after article about ducks pushing eggs out of the nest for a variety of reasons, and I shared them with my girls. It made me feel a little bit better, but for some reason I still feel bad for that poor little ducky whose egg we cracked out of sheer curiosity.

I love ducks. I love how they waddle and quack and shake their little tail feathers. I love how they land on the water like little seaplanes, and how they stand tall and flap their wings.

It’s funny. I almost didn’t park in that spot. I was waiting for another parking place, but there was too much congestion in that aisle so I gave up and found another spot…a spot right in front, next to a freshly mulched little island. With a pale green egg.

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