With (at current count) 18 animals, noise is something I am quite familiar with. Dogs bark, cats meow, rabbits thump their feet on the ground when they are annoyed at something, roosters crow, hens cackle, ducks quack, and mice run on their wheel. Animals make noise: this I know and generally pay little attention to. The exception to this rule are the typical noises that signal something is wrong - cats that hiss or growl, a bark with a certain tone, or - around here - a frantic flapping of wings.
This sound of wing beats is what alerted me to something amiss in the backyard the other day. As this sound never means anything good is happening, I ran outside to discover Maggie and Gretchen in the middle of a whirlwind of wings and feathers. After separating them I was able to look them over and Maggie appeared to have gotten the worst of it, with a gash under his chin (if ducks have chins) that was bleeding. As ducks are equipped with very little weaponry compared to the beaks and spurs of a rooster, Gretchen walked away without so much as a scratch from what I could tell. Maggie's gash was somewhat worrisome, but even more than that was the concern that antibiotics would be required and they would need to be started immediately.
That this incident happened on the Sunday before the fourth of July was even more unfortunate: it meant that our avian vet would be unavailable until Tuesday at the earliest. Our backup vet was also not in the office. The only option left was the emergency vet (one town over, because our emergency vet didn't have anyone who could treat ducks), which probably meant a big wait and an even bigger bill. (I swear the animals conspire only to get injured when it is the most inconvenient timing and all the regular vets are unavailable.)
This circumstance is how we found ourselves sitting in the waiting room at the emergency vet surrounded by the usual cats with kidney stones and vomiting dogs. Walking in there with a duck made us something of an emergency vet celebrity. Two hours, one stitch, fourteen pills, and $100 later we walked out of there sufficiently patched up and ready to live to fight another day. And I'm sure it's only a matter of time until they do.