Under Daisy's wing

Under Daisy's wing

Under Daisy's wing

Alas, there was not a duck in sight!  They had flown away for the winter. Disappointed, I turned to leave, when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by a loud quack and from behind a bush emerged a young, brown duck. Reaching into my pocket, I threw her some bread I was carrying.

While she pecked at the scattered crumbs, I noticed that she was nursing a damaged wing. I guessed that was why the others had left her behind. I felt sorry for her but noticed that she had no problem swimming as she dived into the pond with a loud splash.

Soon the sun began to set, tingeing the sky with a pinkish glow. I started on my way back home. Turning back, to have one last look at the duck, I found her following me. She waddled after me all the way home. Deciding that she would be safer with us than at the pond, where she’d probably fall prey to some wild animals, we adopted her and named her Daisy.

Daisy began following me around on my daily rounds of the farm.  She’d waddle behind me and quack loudly when I gave instructions to the farm hands as if to say, “Do whatever she says!”

It was very amusing to see her put her head in the water with her bottom sticking out as she searched for food beneath the surface of the pond. I learnt that this is called dabbling.  At night, she’d sleep with one eye open and warn us of any approaching danger. She was as good as any watch dog.

One day, a friend came to see us with some orphaned bunnies. She knew my family loved animals and would take them in. The little rabbits were very weak and we wondered if they’d make it through the night. We put them in a small cage lined with an old blanket to keep them warm. Daisy planted herself beside the cage, watching over them.

When I went to check on them next morning, the cage was empty. The bunnies had disappeared. Could they have squeezed out of the cage and be around somewhere, we wondered?  As I began my search for the missing bunnies, Daisy got up to follow me as usual and there from underneath her, emerged the two baby rabbits. They had preferred to snuggle up against Daisy’s soft, feathery warmth, rather than the blanket. She in turn had tucked them under her good wing and kept them warm.

From then on, Daisy literally took them under her wing.She became the bunnies surrogate mum. When she preened her feathers with her beak to keep herself clean, she preened the rabbits’ fur as well. It was quite funny to see her waddling after me with the bunnies hopping after her – together we made quite a motley parade!

Soon the rabbits grew up and had babies of their own but it was not unusual to find them snuggling upto Daisy, without whose loving care I wonder if they’d have survived.

Down the line, we realised Daisy needed a companion. As luck would have it, the same friend who had brought us the bunnies, came by one day with a bottle-green headed Mallard, who had hurt his leg. We took in the handsome drake willingly and named him Donald. 

When we introduced him to Daisy, it was love at first sight. Daisy fussed about him, making much of him and he basked in the affection she showered on him. In time, his leg mended although he walked with a slight limp.

I soon found our normally friendly Daisy keeping to herself. She had built herself a nest of dry reeds and leaves near our lotus pond, where she sat all day, incubating the eggs she had laid.

One fine day, I woke up at the crack of dawn, to an alarm of non-stop quacking.  When I emerged on the verandah, I was greeted by Daisy, the proud mama, with her brood of 10 ducklings in tow. I was so happy that our caring Daisy finally had a family of her own to care for.

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