Knowing the 1st Dead Duck Day in 1996 had only two participants (me and the duck), the record number of 75 people attending the 24th Dead Duck Day ceremony, 5 June 2019, was heartwarming. Sixteen of them showed-up wearing the official Dead Duck Day t-shirt – also a milestone.
With me, the audience was very pleased with the ‘Special Dead Duck Day Message’, send in by corvid researcher dr Kaeli Swift, first-author of the 2018 paper ‘Occurrence and variability of tactile interactions between wild American crows and dead conspecifics’. I had the honor to read it aloud:
Greetings to the participants of the 2019 annual Dead Duck Day! It is with great delight and a strong sense of surrealism that I address you here today. I can still remember when I first learned of the original event over a decade ago while I was an undergraduate dreaming of a career in animal behavior. Today, my work is the latest contribution to the growing list of non-human animals whose occasional behaviors with their dead rattle our puritan instincts. Writing the words “putting the crow in necrophilia” is perhaps one of the most delightful and unexpected outcomes of my life and I’m not sure what else to say about it other than “yes kids, sometimes you grow up to be even more strange than you already are and it’s more wonderful than you can imagine.” May we continue to welcome and honor the unexpected. Happy Dead Duck Day!
We also paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of Bob Dickerman’s observation of ‘Davian Behavior Complex in Ground Squirrels‘ (in 1959).
Images (also by Maarten Laupman) of other things that happened, including O.C. Hooymeijer’s performance, are here.