eric mccarty
2 min readMay 30
Mallard — Duck — Nature — Vunerablity — Prose Poetry — Headless Now — Moca McCarty Photo


of all the animals I see each morning, even when I’m fortunate and catch sight of the rare, secretive ones, it’s ducks that are perhaps most beloved by me. They’re common to be my neighborhood pond, familiar my entire life, and yet never overlooked, always a deep love for this fascinating bird. This is the mallard, perhaps the most recognizable duck in the world, the breeding male offers a beautiful show of color, bright green heads with a ring of white at the base of their deck. Females and non-breeding brings are no less lovely, although not as brightly shown, more subtle, a tone that seems to match the water of their home and yet still displays a unique blue spectrum that’s visible in flight.

it’s their vulnerability that most affects me, that they are easy prey for so many animals that are near, even ones that seem less likely to be a threat such a green and blue herons, crows, and a few fish that pose a threat as well. For several weeks after breeding season they are flightless, having shed their flight feathers, more vulnerable than ever now, and retreating to secretive locations until their ability to fly is recovered. A mallards life is never easy, seldom safe, and the predation-avoidance behavior of sleeping with one eye open, resting a specific brain hemisphere while the other side is awake and watchful was first demonstrated by mallards.

ducks have managed to make full use of their brain in order to survive.

and yet the mallard lives fearlessly in an environment that offers every reason to be afraid, they are restful in their waters, strong flyers, and have a unique ability to thrive given all the dangers found at hand. Mallards teach me the strength of vulnerability, that to be truly fearless is not a single act of courage but a life lived with a sure and certain grace found through this awareness, being strong exactly as I am right now, without need of pretending that I am anything other than vulnerable as well.

mallards are my spirit guide for courage and true strength, continuously showing me the way through vulnerability is to simply be myself without a false show of strength, nor pretense of being anything other than afraid at times. These are the birds that tug my heartstrings, invoking my protective urge, even as they teach me courage.

through their vulnerability…

I am shown the way of fearless living.


Peace, Eric

eric mccarty

Writer, prose poetry, meditation teacher and lifetime student