Lonesome Duck Tales

One interesting character that I don’t think I’ve covered yet is the Lonesome Duck, who shows up in The Magic of Oz. This waterfowl is described as having plumage in many different colors. Baum wrote, “The feathers were of many hues of glistening greens and blues and purples, and it had a yellow head with a red plume, and pink, white and violet in its tail.” The Duck is lonesome because it has no friends or family, and when it [1] DOES meet someone they become disagreeable to the bird very quickly. The Duck has magical powers, being able to produce food for itself and perform some simple spells. When Trot and Cap’n Bill were trapped on the Isle of the Magic Flower, which makes any animal matter take root, the Duck magically grew toadstools for them to sit on. Why the Duck wasn’t trapped by the island is never explained. The fowl lives in a tiny diamond palace in the woods of the eastern Gillikin Country, where the Kalidahs dwell in the greatest numbers. It claims to be the only duck in Oz, but claims like this are always suspect. I don’t think Baum mentioned any other ducks in the land, but Pajuka in Lost King mentions associating with ducks while in the form of a goose, and I think Forbidden Fountain might refer to the birds. I can’t think of any other occasion in which we see an Ozian duck for a significant period of time, however. The Lonesome Duck says it used to know the reason why it was the only duck in the land, but had since forgotten. I’ve pondered writing a story that explains this fact, but none of the ideas I’ve had really seemed quite right. I like the character quite a bit, and had it make a cameo appearance in one of the manuscripts I’ve written.

Speaking of ducks, there are some in a pond in the Munchkin scene of the MGM movie. I heard a story about how the movie-makers tried to dye the water blue, and it ended up dyeing the ducks as well. I would think blue ducks would be appropriate for the Munchkin Country, but MGM didn’t stick with Baum’s color scheme, and it might well not have been too healthy for the birds themselves.

[1] A quick glance over the parts of the book that refer to the Duck make it look like Baum consistently referred to the bird using gender-neutral pronouns. I’ve always thought of the animal as male, however, and that would fit better with its colorful plumage.

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5 Responses to Lonesome Duck Tales

  1. vilajunkie says:

    I’d be interested in seeing a color pic of the Duck–an accurately colored pic, not something like what’s usually colored in a Neill drawing, with inconsistent coloring from the text. I imagine it would turn out to be an eyesore.

    • Nathan says:

      I guess you could print out and color in one of those pictures yourself, if you really wanted to. I don’t think the Duck made it to Eric Shanower’s Oz Toy Book 2.

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