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Saving our wetlands: A tale of the Easter Duck

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By Bob Snyder
The grandkids were asleep on Easter eve. Maggie (our Lab) and I plotted foolproof egg hunting. It’s no fun to hide easy ones, but we had to improve last year’s results of only 27 of 48. Knowing Maggie loves peanut butter and her nose is much better than my eyes and memory combined, I thought with a little on each egg, she could find them all.
By 7 a.m. the indoor eggs and chocolate bunnies had been found. It was time to check out the sunrise. Maggie stayed, inside honing her senses by licking a little peanut butter off her nose. The kids found 32, but 16 were MIA. We opened the door and said, “Find it.” Maggie circled upwind and found the first, then the second. She was an egg-finding machine. Finally Bryson, 6, who starts every sentence with “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” “How” or “Why,” demanded, “How can she find them so fast?”
I shared my secret and told Bryson and Kayleigh, 3, how retrievers use their nose to find things and then retrieve them. Kayleigh wanted to hide more eggs but didn’t want any bunnies harmed. Bryson asked, “What else do they retrieve?” so we talked about tennis balls, shoes, toilet paper rolls, bones, sticks — and my favorite, ducks.
Bryson asked, “Where does she find ducks?” Nana knew we were in for a long day of duck talk and started breakfast. I explained the great migration cycle and that ducks live in wetlands. Kayleigh, like her big brother, asked, “Why a wetland?” Experience being a great teacher, off we went to Bear Creek in town where I knew we’d find ducks and unfrozen water.
When we arrived, there were lots of mallards sleeping, paddling, quacking, stretching, begging (there’s a source of pizza dough nearby) and feeding on invertebrates.
I explained what each was doing, and Bryson quickly asked, “Is pizza an invertebrate?” I explained that “pizza” is a catch-all term for dough and good stuff, while “invertebrates” is a catch-all term for spineless animals like bugs, worms, clams and snails. Kayleigh asked, “Ooooo! Do ducks really eat that stuff?” I said, “Yes, and invertebrates live in wetlands.”
I told how wetlands are nature’s most productive ecosystem, and because of Ducks Unlimited conservation, we’re slowing the loss of critical wetland habitat while improving existing ones. So the number of ducks is growing, but there’s more to be done and DU will continue to lead the world in this conservation effort.
Bryson wanted to help. I said I was taking them to the Evergreen DU Family Banquet on May 11, and would buy some “Protect Your Assets Raffle” tickets so they could win prizes that would appreciate in value while the U.S. dollar loses purchasing power. That way they can help save wetlands when they get older.
Ducks Unlimited is all about passion for wetlands, ducks, dogs, family and friends. That’s why I volunteer to support Evergreen DU. For banquet and raffle tickets and information on other ways you or your business can help, contact Bob Snyder at bobsnyder1@msn.com, Jeff Williams at Jeff.Williams@EvergreenDU.org or 303-670-3672, or visit co.ducks.org.
Your kids, grandkids, Labs and the 900 species that enjoy wetlands will thank you.