North Arlington neighbors flock together over dead duck

A conversation among neighbors was started after a duck was discovered dying in the street from apparently being struck by a vehicle

  • Green Mallard Duck (Photo: Bengt Nyman / Wikimedia)
    Green Mallard Duck (Photo: Bengt Nyman / Wikimedia)
Karen Gavis

It was Monday after Easter, and Josie White was settling into her weekly routine when tragedy struck.

She was headed to work from her North Arlington home when, at the corner of Ocho Rios Court and Barbados Drive, she saw a mallard duck lying on its back in the street. Cars were swerving around the duck, but things weren’t looking good. So she shifted into reverse and drove back home to collect her husband, Darrell.

“It was a beautiful greenhead,” Darrell said.

He had brought a box from home and placed the duck inside it, but its head kept falling out. In desperation, he covered the whole thing with a towel before rushing to Crossroads Animal Clinic.

“The [duck’s] partner was right there with him,” Josie said. “That’s what was so heartbreaking. She was in the other neighbor’s yard watching. And he was in the middle of the road.”

The Whites, who have lived in the area for 17 years, knew from experience that most animal clinics don’t accept wild animals. They once had a squirrel fall from a tree in their yard and hurt itself then had trouble finding someone to treat the animal. Still, Darrell thought he’d give it a try.

“By the time I was getting him out of the car and walking up, it looked like he was dead already,” he said. “He wasn’t moving at all.”

By the time they got to the clinic, it was already too late for the duck. The clinic still offered to cremate the body.

“That was very nice of them,” said Josie, who posted about the ordeal on the neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor.com.

“It is mating season,” she added. “And [the ducks] come. We see them a lot here. They even come sometimes and swim in our pool. They are so precious.”

Darrell says Josie’s social media post generated a community conversation about the duck’s life. However, part of the chat wasn’t exactly neighborly and resulted in one neighbor calling another a “cold-hearted scientist.” But that was after said neighbor posted that ducks were far from monogamous and that the mallard’s mate would probably have forgotten about him by sunrise.

“It turns out they started arguing with each other,” Darrell said. “Their tone and text and their posts were not so nice.”

Regardless, Josie said residents have since become more proactive about watching out for wildlife in the neighborhood.

“We make it hard for them in this big city,” Darrell said. “It’s hard for these animals to survive. We’ve just got to believe [this] was by accident and that nobody intentionally tried to run over a duck.”