Recently, I heard my 19 ducks setting off a huge quacking alarm from their pond and ran outside. I saw a pair of wildly flapping wings on the back of one of my Indian runners and wondered, at first, if I had stumbled upon an unusual mating ritual.

Then I saw it was a red tailed hawk, not going in for the kill but awkwardly balanced on the back of the duck. I shouted and waved my arms but the hawk did not dislodge, as it was apparently unable to retract its talons.

I ran into the house to get my tall rubber boots so that I could wade out to where prey and predator struggled. By the time I returned, the duck was free and the hawk sitting on the bank of the pond looking disheveled and stunned. I say stunned because when I went charging around the pond to scare it away, it didn’t move until I was almost upon it. Even then it flew only a short distance to a nearby tree, where it sat looking for all the world like a chagrined loser.

As the color red on its tail was muted, and it had been foolish (or starved) enough to try and carry off a mid-sized duck sitting on the water, I surmise this may have been a juvenile hawk.

Back in the pond, the Indian runner swam around slowly, listing slightly to starboard. Her attempts at preening were gingerly and her tail remained down for the rest of the day — a sign of being off in ducks.

Happily she is still alive and looking more perky each day. I’m hoping the red tailed hawk learned a lesson.