“How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset.”
-  George MacDonald

A sketch done many years ago when I was still breeding Carolina Ducks (Wood Ducks).

I bred with these ducks (imported from America for breeding and as pets) for a number of years, always had about 10 pairs, each pair raising approximately 10 ducklings at any given time, or should I say, I would be raising between 50 and 100 ducklings at a time – they are very delicate and fragile when small, and have to be removed from the parents within the first day otherwise more than half usually don’t survive due to various factors like getting cold, wet or picking up some disease. I housed about 10 to a box, with a light to keep them warm and water in water-drinkers impossible to throw over, sometimes having 10 boxes to tend to. They would be pinioned within two days of hatching, otherwise you would have ducks (and then not indigenous at that!), flying all over the neighbourhood. Then, when they were about 12 weeks old, they would be released to the pond area, waiting to be identified as male or female at about 5-6 months old, when I could sell them as pairs. Each one had to be tagged with birth date and from which parents, so that one doesn’t pair a female with a brother, but made sure she was betrothed to a neighbour to keep the strain pure.

This unlucky little fellow was very weak right from the beginning and suffered a cripple little leg to boot and despite my tender care and pampering, died within 24 hours of hatching. It’s always a sad event for me when something like that happens, and I sketched him lying on the lawn before I buried him.

HB Pencil and Pilot Fineliner Black ink sketch in one of my Moleskine Nature Journals

From my portfolio of Sketches

Mounted print

I am a watercolorist living on my little piece of African soil in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. The inspiration for my art is the wonderfully rich variety of Fauna and Flora to be found throughout this beautiful country.
“There is a fine line between dreams and reality; it’s up to you to draw it.”

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  • Manon Boily
    Manon Boilyalmost 4 years ago

    that’s so sad Maree! nice drawing for sure ;)

  • Aaaaw, thank you Manon!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Dianne  Ilka
    Dianne Ilkaalmost 4 years ago

    Lovely story Maree! We have Muscovy ducks and this reminds me of our own little duckling that died. I remember bringing it inside and having it die in my hands.

  • Thank you Dianne, always sad when that happens!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Elizabeth Kendall
    Elizabeth Kendallalmost 4 years ago

    Only a memory….I’m sure this little one would be happy if he knew about this sketch and your wonderful tribute on RB!

  • I’m also sure he is happy Liz, thank you!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47almost 4 years ago

    Nice wee memorial for this unfortunate. As you no doubt know, in the wild hereabouts, they nest in cavities in trees or in boxes above the water provided by wildlife experts. One of the funniest things in funny Nature is to watch the hatchlings dropping one by one from the nesting box holes, sometimes several feet, to the water below. And they swim off as if nothing had happened, accompanied by their pretty mother (not pretty like Dad is pretty, but with her own bit of presence). An interesting tale you tell. And a fine sketch, Maree.

  • I was flabbergasted the first time I saw footage of them dropping all that way Sheila! Unbelievable! And the nest boxes I provided for them had to be as high off the ground as possible and I provided ramps for them to go up (because they couldn’t fly) and they virtually refused to nest flat on the ground. If you go here you can see a sketch I did of the parents. Thanks for your lovely comment, much appreciated!

    – Maree Clarkson

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