Sunday, April 22, 2012

Make Way for Mallards!

Watercolor by Sally Wickham © 2012

Mallards provide a wonderful way to introduce a child to bird watching.  Their habitat includes ponds, lakes, vernal pools; almost any body of water provides a place to see these ducks.   And their range assures that no matter where you are, you are likely to see a Mallard.  Mallards are friendly and frequently nest in public places.  The loud quacking of the female is sure to please the tots.  It is also a plus that children do not have to use binoculars to observe  a Mallard.

Shallow waters provide feeding grounds for Mallards where they spend their time dunking for aquatic vegetation and occasionally upending themselves in their never-ending search for food.  These antics result in their being called “dabblers” or “up-enders.”  Either way, they are a delight to watch for children of all ages. 
Always a common bird, the Mallard’s fame has spread through generations of children and their parents since 1941 when author/illustrator  Robert McCloskey first published Make Way for Ducklings.     In case you missed it, the story begins with Mr. and Mrs. Mallard flying around Boston  looking for a place to raise their family.  Nothing quite suits Mrs. Mallard and the story continues from there.  The memorable part of the book for me is when Mrs. Mallard (who has molted after hatching her ducklings and can not fly) walks her brood of eight across town from an island in the Charles River to the Boston Public Garden.  Here in Vermont I often see a similar group of mallards  leaving one pond and trekking to another and I remember the days of reading this book to my own children and to many of my students. 

Imagine the fun that you can have with your children, your grandchildren, or friends of any age quacking like ducks and repeating the rhyming names of the eight ducklingsJack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. 

Quack  Quack  Quack                             N-joy the book and C U @ the pond!