An Unlikely Companionship Among Feathered Friends
Written by My Carolina member Kay Kaiser Gordon, '61
The pond at the Heritage at Lowman Retirement Community in White Rock, SC, might seem like an ordinary pond with picture-perfect landscaping and a lovely spraying water fountain. It’s a popular destination for residents and members of the community who stop and visit or use the fitness walking trail with 10 life-trail, low-impact functional workout stations designed to help older, active adults.
Beyond all that, this pond holds a true story, an exceptional story that would make any devoted Gamecock fan proud to learn about a unique relationship. It’s hard to say who adopted whom at the pond—the Heritage or the gamecock and the duck.
With Loyal Devotion...
For a couple of years, one of the main attractions for critters and people has been a pair of unlikely buddies—a big white duck and a rooster, which has striking similarities to a Carolina Gamecock. Residents say it has been the talk of the town and that anybody who lives at the Heritage or visits knows the story.
Their fair-weather friends come and go, but the gamecock and the duck stick close together. Occasionally, the duck ventures out into the pond to swim with visiting mallards, turtles and fish, while the gamecock struts along on the bank, keeping an ever-watchful eye on the duck. Sometimes, he crows and crows and crows, as if on cue, to lure the duck back to the shore.
The pair has attracted quite a few fans—residents and visitors alike. Everybody loves the idea of the birds and the connection to Carolina and the Gamecock Nation. Some, like Ethel and Jerry Cummings, who own a home at the Heritage, visit the pond a couple of times a week just to see the fowl. Ethel even crows to entice the gamecock. She calls him “Cocky.” She and Jerry are huge Gamecock fans. So are fellow Heritage homeowners Betty and Harold Park. Betty is the Heritage campus volunteer coordinator. Harold is a retired Lutheran minister of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Columbia.
This summer, Carolina alumni and friends gathered at the pond with Heritage residents and others for coffee, breakfast, conversation and the bird viewing. Everybody dressed in their garnet and black. The gamecock crowed several times as they all lined up on the bridge for a photo shoot.
As the story goes, two white ducks appeared on the pond a couple of years ago, and the rooster just showed up. He hung out with the ducks from the beginning. Then, everyone suspects that a fox or coyote got to one of the ducks. That’s when the rooster became extremely protective of the remaining snow white-feathered duck—so much so that Cocky has even dug up grubs to feed his friend.
Some folks, inspired by the feathered friendship, have even written fictional accounts. Heritage volunteer Jan Hopkins wrote “The Story of Rusty the Rooster and Daffney the Duck.” Someone else built an open-faced wooden box and placed it on the bank for the extraordinary pair. The duck and Gamecock sleep there together most nights.
And now, one of the engineers at the Heritage is planning a bird castle for them.
In mid-August, a flock of geese appeared for a while and the mallards had flown away, but the Gamecock and the duck remain in their own domain. They’ll never leave their little haven in Gamecock nation.