George and Kathleen were pleasantly surprised after spotting a group of ducks outside their quaint bungalow. Little did they know, the seemingly peaceful animals would soon turn their worlds upside down.
Our story starts with the Rowes and their search for a new home. As they began approaching retirement, they knew it was essential to find somewhere comfortable enough to spend most of their time.
Not long after they had set their eyes upon the perfect home, they knew it was the one: a beautifully sized bungalow in Cypress, Texas. As they were no longer working, they wanted to feel safe in their surroundings. Of course, though, the living environment inside the home had to feel right.
Home, At Last
Sure enough, it was the perfect find. The bungalow looked over a river within the community, filled with ducks peacefully swimming around. The area exerted serenity, and the Rowes couldn't think of anything wrong with it. They could imagine themselves living the rest of their lives in Bridgeland.
The couple had a future to think about. But, nothing was stopping them from putting down a deposit on the 1-story home. So far, the relaxing views and coffee-filled mornings on the porch had no faults. The bungalow was highly appealing to the Rowes, and they thought the search was finally over.
A Painful Past
The Rowes were sublimely happy with their choice and could see themselves living there forever. Still, they were going through something at the same time. Although they needed to find a new home, it wasn't just because they were both approaching retirement. There was a darker reason behind the move.
George and Kathleen were going through a tough time. Unfortunately, the couple was grieving over the death of their daughter, who passed recently, before starting their search. With many painful memories in their old home, they needed a fresh start. Unfortunately, their promising new chapter would be anything but healing.
Calm Before the Storm
As the story goes, not long after, the Rowes officially became proud homeowners of the Bridgeland bungalow. They seemed thrilled. And their dreams of breathtaking views were becoming a reality. This was their new normal - and they jumped right in!
The healing couple thought their new home and community were going to change everything. It was a helpful distraction following the difficult loss of their child. As they watched the group of ducks and ducklings swim in the river before their eyes, they had no idea this same serenity would soon become a living nightmare.
Exploring the Neighborhood
The Rowes were drawn to the Bridgeland community for many reasons, not just because of their perfect home. The community itself continuously strives to build its connection and devotion to nature. Bridgeland was built to encourage and provide means for its future residents.
The entire region was surrounded by nature's finest streams and lakes of tranquility. This was the community's most considerable appeal to incoming homeowners and weekend visitors. Unsurprisingly, the Rowes chose this area to find peace after the tragedy.
The beautiful region of Bridgeland spreads across at least 500 acres, finding small rivers and lakes just around each corner. All of the current residents find the community extremely relaxing, as they spend their time enjoying the body of water surrounding their homes.
Bridgeland's website also includes the most desirable amenities. The surrounding waters possess a lot more than just stunning views. Current Bridgeland residents can enjoy fishing along the riverside, hop into a canoe, and enjoy a small boat around the exclusive neighborhood observing natural wildlife.
What Could Go Wrong?
Kathleen and George did not have a single doubt that Bridgeland wouldn't be the place for them. Considering their age and current situation, all of the community's qualities appealed to them. It was as if it was made for them - including, of course, the calming wildlife.
In fact, the main aspect that particularly stood out to the couple was the ducks. It was continuous loops of peaceful swimming before their eyes. The native birds were known to Bridgeland, marking their territory in the surrounding lakes and rivers and providing a relaxing environment.
Sure enough, moving in was as smooth and calming for Kathleen and George as expected. The pair settled in nicely and arranged everything in their home the way they envisioned. As the couple previously dreamt, they sat back on their porch, admiring the surrounding nature.
Bridgeland lived up to its standard. The Rowes enjoyed their mornings with a coffee in their hand and the minimal sound of ducks quacking in the background. At this point, they felt at home, and harmony was coming back into place. But, they were completely unaware of the unpredictable upcoming events.
Odd One Out
One fateful morning, Kathleen noticed something strange out in the water. One duck, in particular, stood out for her. She noticed something out of the ordinary right in front of her home. While nothing strange had happened since moving in, she was eager to scope it out.
Kathleen was smart enough to realize something was wrong. This duck was not behaving like the other ducks, casually swimming around and minding their business. She believed the duck obtained behavioral characteristics from being nurtured in a different environment than the others. But where?
Unfortunately, it is not unknown for ducklings to be purchased for domestic and bleak purposes. Some people, like Kathleen, are able to spot the difference in behavior in animals when this is the case. They have been brought up in trained and more harsh environments, which alter their innate personality.
The most popular time of the year this occurs is Easter. Ducks typically serve the purpose of acting as a mascot for the annual and seasonal holidays. However, raising ducklings is more intense than people think. For that matter, if the ducklings are not fit to a certain standard, they are released into the wild on their own.
Spreading Their Wings
It is underestimated the extent of difficulty when it comes to looking after baby birds. They must be nurtured in the right environment to ensure that once they are set free into the wild, they do not lack any essential skills for wildlife. So, if released early, this can be highly problematic for the animal.
Before being released into their natural habitats, birds are raised by humans. They are nurtured in this setting as they cannot navigate through wildlife once they are born. Unfortunately, if not cared for correctly, this can end tragically, and they will be unfit to take care of themselves.
So why do these birds need to be brought up correctly? It all comes down to the independence of the bird as they grow. If they do not possess the foundational skills for wildlife, they will be unable to survive. Especially when it comes to hunger and feeding, the abnormal ducks search elsewhere - back to humans.
It is ubiquitous to see a swarm of ducks and ducklings begging to be fed. They gather around parks and water bodies, searching for leftovers and scatterings of bread slices. As humans work, it is typical to drop a few crumbs here and there to feed them, and they won't leave until they are fed some more.
Scoping Out The Situation
Like the poorly nurtured ducks released early, one duck showed signs of this prolonged behavior outside the Rowes' home. Kathleen noticed the unusual personality of the duckling and immediately scoped it out. She knew from prior situations that this duck had been domesticated.
Kathleen realized this duck might have experienced torturous environments. For that matter, she was questioning for some time whether it would be the right choice to feed the duck herself. What was the worst that could happen? As she saw it, a few bread crumbs wouldn't trigger a negative outcome. Right?
The truth is that feeding the ducks regularly and randomly puts the animals in vulnerable situations. As they are not used to this type of treatment, it is not in their skill set to stop asking for more. Essentially, feeding ducks is more harmful than we think.
Feeding the birds can harm them in a way we would never imagine. As discarded bread crumbs are typically scattered around them, this can affect the duck's health. Sticking to bread gives the ducks a lousy level of nutrition, regardless if passerby thinks they are helping them.
Besides feeding the ducks, outstanding issues contribute to these hazardous environments. When birds are fed by humans sporadically, they yearn for more, searching for the same type of feeders. They will become attached to the continuous process of being fed as if they are being trained.
Though these birds might be domesticated, they have adopted skills that allow them to find their way to what they know. In this case, they will become familiar with the well-known feeding areas. Worse comes to worst, birds might result in entering the private property of residents in the search for food.
An Unspoken Problem
Regarding private residential properties, ducks will proceed to enter gardens, a nature they are used to. The ducks will prey for food, damaging these properties, especially in grassy areas. This is extremely disruptive and aggravating for residents, causing advocating trouble.
According to Richard Gibbons, an American Bird Conservancy charity team member, it is a reoccurring event that is more disturbing to residents than spoken about. He told Houston Chronicle newspaper, “It is a recurring and complex story that so many communities must work through.”
From Friend to Foe
In most cases, we see ducks or ducklings as harmless creatures. Yet, as far as 'hangry' gets, these ducks are not missing any opportunity to be fed. While some ducks peacefully waddle by and are happy to receive any food given to them, others desire endless treats - and can take dangerous measures.
If food is left out, domesticated ducks will want to know where it comes from. Since they were once restricted and mistreated, begging for food can become an entirely different and unpleasant situation. They can become highly violent, and there have been confirmed cases of ducks attacking and harming each other.
A Turn Of Events
Fast forward 11 years, and Kathleen and George's time in Bridgeland was slowly turning into a living nightmare. Kathleen had been feeding the ducks their favorite snack, yellow corn, for some time. Still, she did not think the act of kindness would turn into something extreme.
After feeding them for over a decade, she and George never experienced trouble or complaints. And they did not think it was causing any harm. They even provided food for them outside their home. But before they knew it, the situation had escalated immensely: They were being faced with legal action.
Price to Pay
To the Rowes' dismay, it turns out they had been breaking the rules for quite some time. They had been feeding the birds for as long as they could remember, and no one had said a word until now. This was the first time they heard it was against the Bridgeland law - and they received quite the warning.
Not too long after complaints were made, the HOA (homeowners association) of the area sent the Rowes a lawsuit in the mail. The charge stated they broke the rules by feeding the ducks and must stop effectively. What made matters worse was the innocent act left the couple facing charges of up to $250,000.
Not many people are prepared to face a surprise lawsuit that high. The Houston Chronicle further reported that Kathleen explained they "didn't have the $250,000" and had to be "prepared in case that's what it's going to cost." The Rowes had to make a heartbreaking decision.
While the couple tried not to panic, their last resort was their worst fear. It was a consequential cost they had to pay. Regrettably, the only way they would be able to pay off the lawsuit was to put their perfect, dream bungalow they had lived in for ten+ years up for sale. It was devastating.
This was an event they never thought they would have to be a part of. It was all becoming real - something so harsh because of good intentions. Kathleen's maternal instinct kicked in, and she saw the ducks lost along the way. She had a sense she needed to take control in one way or another.
Kathleen explained in the interview, "[The ducks have] never had a mother. I feel like I'm just stepping in." The couple woke up every morning and saw the bright-eyed view of hungry ducks woefully struggling. Kathleen was not going to sit back - but now, it was clear she would have to pay the price.
The Rowes were utterly heartbroken by the situation. The couple was lost for words and legal guidance. What were they supposed to do now? They felt it would be the best idea to bring in legal help. And so, they hired a new legal representative, Richard Weaver.
Weaver came in at the right time, eager to save the day. Or at least that's what the couple hoped. He specifically stated that Kathleen and George had not broken any laws. Considering the Bridgeland community rules, nothing mentioned that residents were ever prohibited from feeding the ducks.
All in the Fine Print
While the Rowes' lawyer, Weaver, could not match any rule-breaking to Kathleen's actions, the homeowners association believed differently. It seemed that this was not just down to feeding the ducks - but the environmental state of Bridgeland. After all, the community ended up receiving complaints.
The members of Bridgeland actively noticed the mess caused by the birds. The uncleanliness of surrounding nature was against the rules, and the couple's actions didn't comply with this. It was a loophole that the HOA found. The state of the community was supposedly disturbing other residents and disrupting areas of Flora and Fauna.
Tensions were rising daily, and the Rowes, alongside their attorney Weaver, were constantly facing new legal challenges. They were determined to stand by their selfless actions - optimistic about not breaking any guidelines or regulations within the community. They decided to protest in their own way.
The couple bravely stood outside their home and continued to feed the ducks. They remained consistent in their argument and stood their ground. The Rowes were very comfortable and confident in providing the duck's food - even while telling a local news reporter the entire story.
"You’re Hungry, I Know"
Kathleen was stunned by the situation. She could not believe the community she had lived in for eleven years was treating her this way. It was not a secret the couple enjoyed feeding the ducklings. If her neighbors were bothered, why wait so long to take action? She decided to find humor in the situation rather than be angry.
The Houston Chronicle continued to interview Kathleen as she led the reporters to her front lawn. "Life is a hoot," she laughed, gathering the ducks to her property. It was a sight to be seen, calling the animals over with no care in the world. "Stop, Stop! I'll come over to you! You're hungry, I know."
The Sweet Treat
These birds had taken a liking to the Rowes. Despite the consequences, they were the only nurturing couple in the community who were interested enough to feed them. It became a part of their life - and they even started to name the ducks, one being called Tangled after becoming trapped in a wire and saved by Kathleen.
This was an activity that made the couple happy, so Kathleen went ahead and grabbed a handful of the ducks' favorite sweet yellow corn snack. She held out her palm for feeding time, and they instantly started pecking at her hand. However, this happy scene was overpowered by a much sadder situation.
Leaving The Nest
Kathleen continued her emotional conversation with the Houston Chronicle. The couple had now left their dream bungalow home in Bridgeland and were away from their ducks. It was a moment of force, not a choice. And the couple had already lost enough in their life.
Kathleen contemplated her time at Bridgeland, "I'm going to miss them terribly." Up until now, it was Kathleen who expressed the most emotion about the situation. However, George's emotions ran high too. "I'm going to more than miss them terribly," he cried. These ducks filled in the missing pieces they had previously lost.
Neighbors Speak Out
While local residents had a lot to say prior to the Rowes eviction, it seems that opinions following their leave left them divided. Perhaps it should have been a negotiated discussion before it was too late. Instead, the couple left their beloved home. And there was no return.
Some of the other residents did not agree with the situation. Fellow Bridgeland resident, Matt Hill, explained to the press that he was against the couple being sued for their actions. However, on the other hand, he felt the ducks were a burden to the resident's peace and quiet, as they were "tearing up everybody's yard."
What Could Have Been
It is questionable to think what would have happened if the situations were different. Considering the domesticated duck's history before being placed in Bridgeland waters and the treatment given, were there any other factors that affected the entire property?
Perhaps there would have been no issues if there were no ducks in the first place. These struggling animals needed to be taken care of, and it was a bleak environment for which they were not fit. As a result, the couple tragically lost their home - for something they were never even warned about.
Once the couple had been faced with a pricey lawsuit, they attempted to go three days without communication with the ducks. It was no surprise that they couldn't take it. Hence, they continued to feed them until it was eviction time. Now, they are no longer residents of the Bridgeland community.
But as Richard Weaver sees it, it was the "silliest lawsuit he has ever seen" in his entire career. So much so, that he even threatened to "hold the HOA accountable." However, if the Rowes prevail in court, they'd still choose to remain in Bridgeland - for the sake of their happiness. And friends in need...