The territorial impulse runs deep – especially when you’ve got a family to protect.
Loud was the shouting from the Paradise Shelducks, so we rushed out to see what was up.
The two young are a good size now, fully fledged, and pot-ready (just joking!), but the parent Paradise still escort them everywhere.
So when a rash foreign male had ventured into the little lake, where “our” family of four were in residence, “our” male bird went on the offensive.
The female was hovering, looking to intervene. (Unusually for birds, she’s the more colourful of the pair, with her white head and auburn plumes.)
She was circling the fighting pair, honking. Encouragement? Or an attempt at mediation?
After they’d been struggling for several minutes, she literally waded in, climbing over their threshing wings. The young birds were hovering, observing, learning?
Then – one drake had the other motionless in the shallows, standing on it, in the conquering hero pose.
Mani’s mind turned to duck for dinner. It wouldn’t do to waste a gift from nature.
Our Paradise pair celebrated with much mutual congratulation, cleaning and preening.
And then I wondered… I was assuming it was our loyal pair, triumphant. But what if it was actually a darker story, and we’d just seen a violent change of partners?
No. I’m convinced all is well. They’re back on patrol, watching over their young with the effortless routine of an established parental pair.
And … as I write this … four paradise fly past the window. The young have their wings. Poor things, for their days of parental protection are now numbered. The next chapter in this drama will see them sent packing – and birds don’t take their young back home when the real world gets altogether too hard.