Raining Cormorant and Ducks


The first part of this week, it rained cats and dogs. Or should I say, cormorant and ducks?

I was passing through Duke Gardens in a drizzle-turned-downpour-turned-drizzle on Tuesday when I discovered a different perspective of the place. It was as though, for a brief moment, the Gardens belonged solely to its ‘natural’ inhabitants—the wildlife.

As I traveled the main path between the Historic Garden and Asiatic Arboretum, a gaggle of ducks congregated along the walk, wading in the puddles and grooming their feathers.


I looked to my right, toward the garden pond in the Asiatic Arboretum. Behold! there was a double-crested cormorant perched on the bank. It was the first cormorant I’d ever seen at the Gardens.


A double-crested cormorant along the edge of the garden pond. — W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum at Duke Gardens; Durham, NC

The cormorant decided on a dip, swimming around the pond with its hooked bill tipped upwards. Perched nearby was a large duck with a bright red beak. It was a stout sight that looked like a cross between a rooster, a turkey, and goose. It was, in fact, a male muscovy duck.


A double-crested cormorant takes a rainy-day swim as a muscovy duck stands along the bank. — Asiatic Arboretum at Duke Gardens in Durham, NC


A muscovy duck standing in the rain. Duke Gardens; Durham, NC

One by one, the mallards cleared the path, taking flight and touching down on the garden pond, making way for me to pass. As I did so, I looked to my left—over by the Iris Bridge along the edge of the Historic Garden—and saw something that surpassed the mallards and muscovy and rivaled the double-crested cormorant. It was a Great Blue Heron perched atop a weeping tree, right there in the middle of the pouring rain.


On a rainy day, this Great Blue Heron heads for higher ground down by the Iris Bridge in the Historic Garden at Duke Gardens. (Durham, NC)


A Great Blue Heron by the Iris Bridge at Duke Gardens. (Durham, NC)

The rain tapered to a drizzle. Much of the wildlife retreated beneath the trees or behind the brush, and the Gardens slowly filled with visitors once again.


The Duke Gardens Terrace on a rainy October morning. Durham, NC

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