Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The One-Legged, Mighty Duck of My Park

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The One-Legged, Mighty Duck of My Park

Article excerpt

I have a little duck friend with only one leg who inspires me. I call him "Little Guy" and he lives at Burrell Lake Park with all the other ducks.

I walk my dogs Pumpkin and Peaches there almost every day. A couple of weeks ago, the only tracks in the snow were ours. That's because it was 11 degrees outside with a wind chill that made it feel below zero. Every part of my body was covered except my face. I wore two pairs of pants, a sweatshirt and my coat, a scarf, a hat and soft, fuzzy, lavender gloves. My nose dripped and I held a paper towel to it. The brutal wind pierced my cheeks raw, but I love feeding the ducks.

Most of the lake was frozen with thick ice, but a small pool of water remained where all the ducks swam in the center of the lake.

I walked down the hill toward the pond when the first duck crash landed near us. It was Little Guy. He flopped over, rolling to his side, but quickly straightened himself out and balanced on his one leg.

Sometimes the ducks are casualties of abandoned fishing line. They get it wrapped around their legs and they can't free themselves. They start limping. I find it heartbreaking and I've called the police and the Department of Parks and Recreation, but they don't help. They told me that when they try to capture them in order to help them, the ducks fly or swim away. I don't know what happened to the one-legged duck, but my guess is he lost a battle with some fishing line.

The duck can't walk, but he does use his tiny stump to limp around. I felt so sorry for him and I made sure he always got food. I wondered how long he would survive through the winter. Would he starve or would a predator get him? But so far, he has persevered.

After the one-legged duck arrived, WHOOSH. The ducks all fluttered in with their flapping and chorus of quacking. A few ducks ran full speed toward us, waddling and comically sliding on the ice, but most flew in. They know when I have food and they were hungry. …

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