Today at lunchtime I took advantage of the balmy weather and went for a row on 
the lake.  A couple of miles north of Myers and about 100 feet from shore, I 
came upon a duck thrashing about rather feebly on the water.   It turned out to 
be a male Mallard and when I first rowed by, its neck appeared to be very 
awkwardly twisted backward over its shoulder and it was flailing around with 
one foot out of the water.  I wondered if it was tangled in fishing line or 
something and decided to approach and see if I could help.  I rowed right up to 
it, and by this time it had stopped moving.  It was floating with body upright, 
but its head and neck were laid out backwards and to one side, so that its head 
was upside down in the water, crown down and throat up.   No sign of 
entanglement.  I reached down and lifted its head, and its neck was totally 
limp and floppy.  As I lifted its head out of the water I saw that its eye was 
open, and as I raised its head up so its beak pointed upward it opened its 
mouth a bit but no sound came out.  Its neck was so floppy that I had a hard 
time getting it back into a normal position,  upright and facing forward.  But 
I did, and just then suddenly I felt its neck muscles come to life, I slowly 
let go- and it held its head straight!  It began to swim, slowly but in a nice 
straight line toward the shore.  I watched it, and it watched me with that 
suspicious sidelong duck look, as it swam away and finally climbed out of the 
water onto the shore, changing course slightly to walk up behind a rock where I 
could no longer see it.  I rowed away, not wanting to approach and stress it 
any more.  

What had happened??  I could see no sign of injury, the bird was well-preened, 
floated high and dry, and looked normally plump and thoroughly duck-shaped.  

What had happened?   I can still feel the strange sensation of holding up that 
absolutely limp neck, and then suddenly felt it come to life.  

John Greenly



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