we lost one of the blue runners last evening around 7-7:30. i don't know what happened. i was making dinner around 6 or so and went out to the kitchen garden to get some herbs for the meal, the ducks were in their area at the back of the garden, they were all fine. i gave them some fresh water before i took the herbs in and went back to cooking. just after we finished eating i went back out to feed them and again everyone seemed just fine. it was maybe half-an-hour later that i went out to get them some fresh bedding for the night that i saw her. the ducks were all resting quietly but one was lying flat on her belly, legs out behind her and head and neck stretched out in front, not completely abnormal for a very young duckling but not at all right for one at 8 weeks old. she was still warm when i picked her up. there were no wounds. there had been no panicked or unusual sounds indicating a predator or anything else that may have startled them. i didn't autopsy her, i probably should have, but i didn't. i took her to the orchard garden and sat for a while, stroking her feathers and beautiful, mottled bill and wondered what could have gone so wrong. had i failed her somehow? i take very good care of my animals. i take the responsibility of their care very seriously. i don't think there was anything i could have done to prevent what happened, whatever it was, but i still can't help but feel responsible for it.
i woke in the night, wondering and feeling bad. i couldn't get back to sleep so i got up. i needed to hear them. ducks are not like chickens. there are always a few of them awake at any given time of night, talking to each other. i stood at the screen door listening to them for a while. it was comforting.
this morning all is well. the ducks have been watered and fed and are now busy preening and making happy conversation. today is a new day and nothing to do but carry on doing the best we can for each other.