by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"The Tale of Fred And Ethel"

        Do you have a water feature in your yard? Not big enough, you say? It could be fairly small, tucked away in your backyard, and yet prove to be a magnet for birds. When I think of ducks, I see a large body of water.... but thatís not always the case. Take the tale of Fred and Ethel, two Mallard Ducks who found a small waterfall in Ken and Brenda Rusnellís yard. One spring day Brenda looked out her window and there were two ducks at their waterfall. Ken ran for his camera! It wasnít necessary to be in such a hurry to take a picture of the unusual pair, for Fred and Ethel became resident mallardsdinner guests. Every day they flew to the waterfall, ate bird seed left by the Wrens, Goldfinches, Doves, and Sparrows, enjoyed basking in the water feature, took a nap, and then flew off. Some days, two times! What a joy to have visitors like that!

        Mallards easily make friends with humans. They have the ability to land and take off on dry land without a water assist, so they are able to go places other ducks cannot. When they migrate, they may stop to eat at a farmerís grain field, share a pasture with cattle, or they may be one of the beautiful, colorful ducks you see and feed so many times at the Tonaquint, or any other local pond. One couple on Americaís Funniest Videos thought it great when a pair of Mallard Ducks landed in their swimming pool one year. But then the word got around, and soon there were hundreds of ducks stopping by this expensive, tailor-made watering hole.

        It is unusual to find Mallards flying into a closed yard with a small waterfall. Good thing this is a small water feature, because next year they could bring back their extended family and friends to the Rusnells.

        Thank you Brenda Rusnell for letting me tell this story and for drawing Fred and Ethel. For more information about birds call Marilyn Davis 435 673-0996.

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