Mother’s Day goes wild

It’s somewhat rare to see a lone mallard. These ducks are a gregarious species. So it was peculiar to come upon a female mallard living alone on a manmade pond during my recent desert travels.
At first I thought she was a pet in the pond-owning community, but she belonged to no one. A drake (a male mallard) had briefly kept her company then vanished, never to be seen again.
In time the female, whom I called Gretchen, gained companionship— one of her clutch of nine eggs had survived predators’ in...

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