It’s a cold damp morning and I am sat in our duck enclosure, in Cafe du Canard, with a cup of coffee. BeepBeep (our blind duck) is in the little nearby pond, asleep. In watching her, I wonder do ducks dream?
The other ducks are foraging outside the enclosure. Our morning ritual. Whilst Gabby wanders in and out, checking on me, and then joining the flock again. And repeat.
With all the wandering about of the other ducks, Beeps finds it difficult to keep up. So when I stay put in the Cafe, she comes to join me and hang out.
She is simply floating, with both eyes closed. Her cream coloured feathered eyelids clearly on show. A little known fact is that ducks can let half their brain sleep, closing one eye, whilst the other half stays on alert for danger. It is actually rare that a duck will truly sleep, with both eyes closed.
They generally will only do it when another duck stands guard, particularly in the wild. So in affect, I am BeepBeeps’ guard duck and she is able to close both eyes.
It is wonderful to sit here and simply watch her. She is such a feisty little thing. Always having to fight for her corner. So to see her relax completely, makes my heart warm.
And in her sleep, she moves about. She reaches out now and then with her beak. And twitches her head a little. Like cats or dogs do when they are asleep. Which makes me certain that ducks dream.
Is she dreaming of a mountain of worms she can stuff her beak in? Of playing in mud puddles? Can she see again in her dreams? It’s sad to think, but also I hope she can.
She never stays asleep very long. A minute at most at a time. Usually she is interrupted by another duck coming to visit, or even oust her from the pond. But she simply takes the interlude in stride and heads to one of the feeding points for a quick munch.
And as the morning wears on and nap time approaches, she heads back once again to her little pond. Ready to close her eyes once more. I feel very privileged to be so trusted as her guard duck and to be able to watch ducks dream.