Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Loyalty to dead mate

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Bird interactions Updated: April 1, 2012 - 1:31 PM

 Two days ago, driving home, I passed a Mallard drake standing very near the road, beside what appeared to be a hen. I stopped to check. Indeed, the bird curled on the ground was a cold, stiff Mallard hen. I assumed she had been hit by a car, tossed or moving to the boulevard and dying there. The drake flew at my approach. One day later, a grandson and his mother drove past that spot. The body of the hen remained, the drake again standing nearby. Later that same day, I drove by. The hen was gone, but the drake Mallard continued to stand on the spot of the hen's death, well more than 24 hours after her death.

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