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the birds and the bees and the beaver

February 21, 2011

In just less than a month, we in the northern hemisphere will mark the

vernal equinox.  Jude and I started celebrating early yesterday by taking

the dogs to parts of our property that we can’t usually reach.  It was cold

enough to freeze the top of the snow so it could support our weight.

Their weight, really.  I chub up in the winter for extra insulation.  I got

the idea from watching a show about bears on Discovery Channel.  The

additional pounds also dovetail nicely with my practice of watching a

lot more TV during this season.  I guess “beartail” would be more des-


So the wife and kids were doing fine, but I was breaking through the

snow about every other step, sometimes all the way up to my beartail.

Jude said I looked like Groucho Marx walking.  Hooray for Captain


As we headed out, we passed the beehives.  We had seen a few of them

out several weeks ago during a warm afternoon.  There were none in

the air yesterday, but dozens of dead ones near the hives.  We knew it

wasn’t the right part of the year for “make sexy time”, as Borat said.

That’s when the queen seduces and abandons the male drones.  Then

the female workers rudely downsize the depleted chaps by pushing

them out of the hive to die.  But the carcasses we saw yesterday were

scattered too widely for that.  We speculated that they just couldn’t

get back to the hives in time after the temperature dropped quickly.

I would have hypothesized more, but Jude said “just keep walking

like Groucho”.  We gingerly picked our way over the snowy bridge

spanning the creek connecting the two ponds and trudged to the

outlet creek.  It wasn’t likely the beaver was trying to rebuild his

dam yet, but it was a good enough reason to get some exercise.

There was, in fact, no beaver at the damsite, so we headed home.

We hoped to catch Biff and his harem mixing it up on the pond

near the house.  Just to review, here they are:

They’re bufflehead

ducks.  Biff, the male,

(mostly white) and

Muffy, the female,

(far right) first came

to the pond four years



The next year they returned with the mysterious Yolanda (nearest

Biff).  Complications ensued, but the threesome seemed to have it

worked out last year.  This time around they came back with a fourth

female (far left), so mysterious and standoffish that we have yet to

name her.  And recently they’ve been joined by another male.  We

don’t care about him enough to name him.

Their courtship is a grin to watch.  The guys display by flying a short

distance, then landing in the water with an exaggerated splash, chest

puffed up.  Sometimes the girls chase them, sometimes the reverse.

A few times it looks like the guys are — how can I put this in a way

that respects the integrity of the internet —





REALLY enjoying each other’s company.

Anyway, business seems to get taken care of.  Genitals conjoin, water

sprays, ecstactic quacks fill the chilly air, and the boys go along their

way.  I’ve seen films of fivesomes like this, though not on Discovery


I admire any creature that’s willing to expose their goodies in sub-

freezing weather, on icy water at that.  So I suppose that Biff, Muffy

and Yolanda deserve recognition for expanding their menage-a-trois.

But what to call it?  I suppose cinq dans l’amour for “five in love”.

That makes more sense than pentagone d’amour, or “pentagon of

love”.  That sounds oxymoronic.

  1. Beth Reed permalink
    February 22, 2011 5:19 am

    I love ducks. I live in the duck capital of the world or so the natives here tell me. There are festivals and dinners and duck shows all over the state of Arkansas. I especially enjoy seeing them fly over my house during the beginning of the season but it gets old soon enough. The poor things were confused this year. Freezing temps one week and beach weather the next. They didn’t know if they were coming or going..

    • February 22, 2011 9:03 am

      Welcome, Beth, and thank you for you comments. Arkansas is an intriguing place, bursting with natural wonders. I’ve driven through it many times, most of the trips from Kansas to Louisiana or back.

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