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Meet the neighbors #4…the Duck Lady

02/19/2013

We live just up the hill from a duck airport.

We noticed an unusual amount of waterfowl flying over our house this winter, several weeks after most smart ducks had headed south. Our neighborhood is several blocks up a steep hill from the Kenduskeag Stream. There are no lakes in the area and no ponds. Just a cemetery, houses, streets and an open field with a hand-painted “Will build to suit” sign.

But morning after morning, starting in December,  I would look out the window and watch a couple dozen ducks circling a house down the street — like its chimney was a control tower. The birds would fly around the house and then apparently land in a wooded area just out of sight.

What’s going on back there? Is there a hot springs down the hill we don’t know about? Does somebody leave their jacuzzi on all winter?

Finally last weekend, Jen and I discovered why our street has become a runway for LaQuackia International Airport. We were out for a walk in the latest “Blizzard of the Century” when we ran across a lady clearing her driveway with a snowblower. We gave her a friendly wave. She stopped and walked closer to the street. She was dressed in a purple winter coat, the kind you might wear for hiking up a mountain. She had thick mittens on her hands and a multi-colored knit hat pulled down over her head so you couldn’t tell the color of her hair.

“I got bored sitting around inside so I decided to come out here and play,” she said. “I love using that thing.” She looked over at the parked snowblower, still roaring like a freight train.

“Well, you’ve got a lot of snow to work with,” I said.

We chatted about the weather and Jen asked about the ducks.

“Yep, they’re mine,” she said. “They’re all in my backyard.”

A few years ago, the Duck Lady said, she started leaving nuts and seeds on the ground in her backyard to divert pesky squirrels away from her bird feeders. The move solved some of her squirrel issues but produced an unexpected side effect.

“Somehow the ducks found it and now they spend their winters here,” she said.

Every December the feed goes out in the backyard and the ducks start landing. She must get quite a show from her kitchen window.

“Well, you solved our mystery,” I said. “Are you sure there’s no pond back there?”

The Duck Lady laughed and returned to her snowblower. We marched back up the hill in knee-deep drifts. A cold wind continued to blow.

We didn’t see any ducks.

The airport was closed all day.

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From → Bangor, Birds, Home, People

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