Duck Approval

Mallard-FemaleThe hospital elevator doors opened and on stepped the pretty nurse.  She glanced at me and smiled; then she glanced at me a couple more times and continued smiling.  Thinking to myself—“Hmm . . . is it my smile?  Maybe she likes my cool woodsy outdoor jacket?”  I was getting ready to say something to her when the doors opened again and off she went . . . glancing back at me one more time smiling, and the doors shut.  A few more floors up, I got off the elevator to go see my dad who’d just had minor surgery.  Walking into his room, and after greeting him with a quick, “Hi, Pop,” he looks up at me and starts grinning.  Pointing at my cool jacket, he said, “What’s that?” chuckling to himself, knowing full well what it was!

Looking down, I saw I had this huge gob of creamy white and green parrot poop stretching halfway down the front of my jacket!!  Obviously, it wasn’t my smile or cool jacket that had the cute nurse smiling…thanks to my parrot who had been sitting on my shoulder before I left for the hospital.  He was a Red Fronted Amazon, a good-sized parrot, and he’d dropped a good-sized load!

Birds and I have a long history.  During high school, my friend Norm had gotten me a job at a pet store.  One day the owner comes to me looking angry and says, “If that Amazon parrot ever says to a customer what you’re teaching him to say—you’re FIRED!!  This was before I knew Jesus, and I was teaching Polly, to say, “I’m a green son of a b____!!”  At the time, I thought it was funny, but since the bird was such a good talker, I purchased him to save my job!  (We ended up having Polly as a pet for over twenty-five years.)

While I was still working at the pet store, one day a lady brought in a small all green parrot.  With the parrot perched on her finger, I looked on in astonishment.  From the neck down, he was completely naked!! Well, almost naked—he had a feather here and a feather there, maybe a total of two or three tops! Asking the lady what happened, she said, “Oh, he was scratching himself a lot, so I sprayed him with bug killer, and that stopped the itching.”

She wanted to know if there was some kind of medicine she could spray him with to put the feathers back on.  Trying not to show my look of disbelief, or worse, burst out laughing, I assured her that we didn’t have a spray that would put feathers back on!  The woman’s face revealed sincere sadness, but clearly not wanting the bird, I offered to take it.  She perched him on my finger, turned, and left the store, and I was left with this poor little dude that reminded me of a plucked chicken in the cooler at a grocery store, only with a green head.

Taking him home, I made a small tree stand a couple of feet tall for him in the kitchen and set it on the floor near Polly’s cage so they could enjoy each other’s company.  We called him Little Naked Birdie, and every day he’d climb to the top of the “tree,” and with all his little might, flap his bare wings in an attempt to fly, but to no avail.  There was no need for a cage since he couldn’t fly, and he was perfectly content just staying on the stand.  My mom wanted to know if she could knit the poor little naked thing some kind of a colorful sock with little leg holes to wear to keep him warm and modest, but I assured her he would just unravel it with his beak for something to do and modesty wouldn’t even register in his little bird brain.

A few months later, my dad brought home a Screech Owl with a broken wing.  He had found it by the woods that he drove through on his way to work and brought it home to his critter-loving son.  I splinted the wing and set him in an open box.  He was a little smaller than Polly and much bigger than Little Naked Birdie.  His box ended up on the kitchen table by the other two birds.  Over the next few weeks, the owl was healing well, and I was thinking about getting him a cage since he was now able to get out of his box.

One Sunday after coming home from church, my mom and I walked into the kitchen.  The owl had gotten out of his box, and I found him in the corner of the kitchen on the floor looking all puffed up like a small balloon.  At that moment, I heard my mom say, “Hey!! Where’s Little Naked Birdie??”  I turned and looked at his tree stand where he always perched and saw one small green feather lying at the base of the stand.  We both looked at the owl . . . while we were gone, he’d had lunch.

Over the years, I’ve had white doves, Diamond doves, assorted wild song birds, finches, parakeets, cockatiels, canaries, more owls, chickens, ducks, a Sparrow Hawk, a Night Hawk, and one time I caught a Cooper’s hawk with a bad wing.  I was pretty bloody after wrestling him into a box as I contended with his sharp beak and talons.  He ate well in captivity, his wing healed, and a couple months later, I released him where I had originally caught him–and watched him climb into the sky and soar away.

All this to say, with my background with birds, I was aware that what happened one day to my friend and I with one duck in particular was very unusual duck behavior….and perhaps something more.

The day I’m referring to was one summer day that my friend and I had been working on my sailboat docked at a large lake in a small town about an hour away.  When finished, we liked to go to a very local restaurant, chow down, and then drive to a parking lot on a small piece of land jutting out into the lake, break out our lawn chairs and sit in the mowed grass down by the water’s edge and chat.  There were fist-sized rocks separating the grass like a border from the calm water.  He, as a wildlife artist, and I, as a biologist, really enjoyed the setting.  Most of the lake was surrounded by trees dotted with a couple small islands, making it a picturesque and quiet place to relax.

Soon the conversation turned to a serious topic as we began talking about Jesus.  I was explaining to my friend that it was one thing to know and believe in Jesus from a distance, and a whole other thing to know him up close and personal.  And the only way to do that was to do what I did back on February 7th in 1971 when I gave my life to Jesus.  I told my friend that one constant of knowing Jesus personally has been that no matter what ups and downs in life I’ve had over the years, I have never lost His “peace.”  Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us, and He has been good on his word ever since that day.

As our conversation continued, my friend said he wanted to do the same, so I told him to repeat after me, “Dear Jesus, “I acknowledge that you are the Son of God, and nobody can come to God except through you. Thank you for dying on the cross for me to pay the penalty for my sins and to make a way for me to God our Father. Jesus, I ask you to forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done in my life, both large and small. I give my life to you and want you to be Lord of my life! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

While we sat in the silence of the moment, I saw a female Mallard duck swimming all by herself, paddle her way down to the rocks in front of us.  Climbing out of the water, she waddled over on her short stubby legs until she stood about three feet in front of my artist friend.  Cocking her head sideways, she looked up at him, studied him for a moment, and then nodded her head a couple of times.  It was as if she were saying, “Yes, my friend, you have made the right decision to follow Jesus. You will not be disappointed following the great Creator who made us both.”

With that, she turned and waddled back down to the water and swam off.  I thought to myself, “Wow, my friend has not only been accepted by Jesus, but he even got duck approval!”

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”   –John 1:1-4 (KJV)

 

Copyright © 2013 by William D. (Nick) Nichols

5 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    lWhat a neat story, Nicky. Thanks for sharing. I wish I had known your Mom and Dad. 🙂

  • Sue says:

    Good one Nicky !

  • SAM I am says:

    Hi Nicky,
    Thank-you for the laughter – reading about your experiences with our winged friends, and thank-you for sharing about the miracle God performs in the life of one who trusts himself to Him.
    ~ He is awesome, and so kind in His love for us!
    Thank-you for using your gift of story to encourage our hearts!

  • John Vandenberge says:

    Good testimony! Thanks, John.

  • john & Linda Vandenberge says:

    Great Duck story. It shows how God is in control of everything and how creative He is. He even uses a duck to communicate as He did with a donkey in the Bible. Bless you, John and Linda.

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