Why nearly everything about ducks makes you smile | Eye News,The Indian Express

The wacky and quacky world of the water fowls

Sunday, Sep 25, 2022

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HomeEyeWhy nearly everything about ducks makes you smile


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Why nearly everything about ducks makes you smile

The wacky and quacky world of the water fowls











Written by Ranjit Lal

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Updated: September 25, 2022 2:03:41 pm



































Gadwall stretching its wings (Credit: Ranjit Lal)Ducks are wacky. And, quacky of course. Personally, I think that one of their greatest talents is their ability to make even the most dour, sour and deadly serious watcher (not necessarily a bird-watcher) break into an involuntary smile, which is such a godsend first thing in the morning. (We are usually scowling ferociously at this time).The other day, I went down to the Yamuna Biodiversity Park and stood by the large water body. Blue and pristine, it was empty except for a family of spotbilled ducks. The little family swam serenely away, their faces made up like Kathakali dancers, with the same wide, amusing smiles stretched ear to ear. They imparted an air of tranquillity to the place, leaving neat V-shaped wakes as they swam.

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Nearly everything about ducks makes you smile. First of course, it’s their faces, what with that flat beak, some of which can look like a shovel (ah, the duck in question is called the shoveller), others with virulently hued ones that make them look like they’ve gone overboard with the lipstick (the red-crested pochard for example). Then there’s the way most of them waggle their tails as they swim around, looking pleased as Punch. And when some of them want to check what’s available just under the surface they upend and rotate slowly, their bottoms high, vivid orange flippers kicking valiantly. Soon enough, they straighten up, eyes twinkling and wag their tails. Those that specialise in providing this kind of entertainment are called “dabblers”. The “diving” ducks, also called pochards, are as a rule more dour and serious looking, and have beady eyes – but they can make you laugh, too. The austerely attired (in black and white) tufted pochard with its beady golden eye and “shendi” at the back of its head, makes you grin irreverently as it reminds you of well… I’m not saying any more. Check on Google and reach your own conclusion. Pochards dive deep into the water bodies to find delicacies which the shallow-hunting dabblers are not interested in.

Then ducks have those flipper-feet which give them that inimitable bottom-wagging waddle, which perhaps only Charlie Chaplin managed to perfect. But well, put on swim flippers and try walking around quickly and you’ll get pretty close too! Ducks’ legs and feet are set far back on their bodies to help them propel themselves in the water, but are not very sensible on land.

And there’s the quack! It can vary in intensity from a quiet, contented murmur “wak-wak-wak!” as family members keep in touch to a loud, brassy “WAK-WAK-WAK-WAKWAKWAK!”, when tempers short between drakes over a ducky. Drakes alas, are not the most chivalrous of suitors. Like hoodlums, they just pile on en masse on top of the poor lady – who may well be in danger of being drowned. I saw this happening in broad daylight in the duck-pond of the National Zoological Park in Delhi many years ago. It was disgraceful, and she was not a lucky ducky!

https://indianexpress.com/article/express-sunday-eye/why-nearly-everything-about-ducks-makes-you-smile-ranjit-lal-8162023/


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