I must confess that my favorite part of last night’s opening ceremony was one particular Olympic-oriented commercial. The commercial portrayed elementary-aged children as if they were competing in the Olympics. Each child-Olympian prepared for his or her unique competition, sporting attire that matched their particular event. The premise of the commercial (from my knothole) is that mothers always see their offspring—no matter how old, and no matter how successful--as their children. Motherhood and apple pie—how can you not smile?Birds, like humans, possess an extremely diverse set of extincts when it comes to raising their young. Some parents (birds, that is) simply push their hatchlings out of the nest as soon as their youngsters can fly. Some adult females keep their juveniles with them until their offspring reach adult maturity (with dad no where in sight). And then at maturity, the newly adult males are kicked out of the matriarchal society while the young-adult females remain and become a part of the social group (Red-winged Blackbirds are a great example).
Some Aves offspring never return to the original nesting grounds of their birth but make their way off and alone to find new adventures with their own to-be-discovered mate(s). And some other Aves offspring become a part of a multi-generational village of birds, traveling, nesting, and living out their lives in the company of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on.
Last night’s child-Olympian commercial made me think about a series of photos I recently shot at Brazos Bend State Park. While walking around one of the park's oxbows, I came upon a village of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, overflowing with young juveniles. My photographs don’t express the sounds of these hungry ducklings—their rapid dabbling for food instantly brought back the sounds of highschool typing class, where a gaggle of teenagers, in a 1970's classroom, were happily banging away on the modern-era's electric typewriters. It turns out that the humming and clicking sound of a room full of electric typewriters is similar to the sound of a whole bunch of juvenile Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks dabbling in the green muck for their daily bread.
A mamma Whistling-Duck looks on, and the juveniles feed with a typing frenzy:
I photographed the only adult (a Mamma?) that centered herself with the little ones:
My stealthy viewing was rewarded by this attentive mamma not turning away:
And one particular little one seemed especially curious about my presence:
Mother Nature gifted these Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks with an innate nature to protect and guard their young. Time will only tell the future story of these juveniles—and whether or not they grow up and become a part of this Black-bellied Whistling-Duck village. Not all of us can grow up to be Olympic athletes. But our mammas usually think we’re pretty special, even if we do wander about staring at birds.