Spring has officially sprung. Not because of the date, or the warming temperatures, but because the ducks that Ambrose feeds outside our apartment have become combative. No longer do we get large crowds of ducks that occasionally nibble at each other to force one another away from choice piles of bird seed, but rather we get pairs of males and females.

Sometimes, the pairs will co-exist peacefully. Maybe as many as six ducks at once will come and feed together in an uneasy harmony. Food is more important than squabbling. But then another couple will encroach and the males will begin to fight.

The drakes charge each other, and the hens as well. Any duck that dares to approach gets a billed charge and an angry quack. The interlopers will back off for a moment and then try circling around to approach from another direction. A single hen will be eating, two other couples milling, and one angry drake keeping them from the food.

But, however willing they are to fight each other, they still fear most other things. They fear the shadow of movement inside our apartment when we try to get a better glimpse at their antics. They fear passing dogs, regardless of whether or not the dogs notice them. They fear passing cars, despite the fact that the cars are no danger to them.

At the least sign of danger, they fly off as one group, no matter how divided they just were, sailing away to other food or the nesting grounds, but always returning to battle for our bird seed in due time.

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