Pilling’s Pond

This was a Facebook post yesterday because it’s just personal and kind of chit-chatty, but actually the subject matter is of broader interest so what the hell, I’m reposting it here. Everybody should know about Chuck Pilling.

For a few years in the late 80s and early 90s I lived in north Seattle, and in my neighborhood lived a guy I knew of from working at the zoo, a self-taught bird man, who had a pond with all kinds of ducks on his property. It was about a 20 minute walk from me and I went there often to admire the ducks and the world he’d made for them. Then I moved, and that was that.

Today I took Cooper out exploring as usual, and ended up in my old nabe, at a tiny but mighty park called Licton Springs…which got me thinking about the bird man, and trying to remember his last name, which I couldn’t do. Chuck _____?? And I wasn’t sure exactly where the pond had been. He was a geezer in the 80s so I knew he wouldn’t be around still, but I thought maybe I’d read somewhere that his place was still there. I thought I would try Googling later, so we went back to Cooper’s car and I went toward that general area just in case, and at a corner where I thought it might be there was a great concrete emptiness in front of a huge new building…but then beyond the emptiness was a massive solid wall of trees and bamboo and I yelled “I think that’s it!” So I parked (and left Cooper, who was tired), and hustled down the block – the new building is a primary school – and the closer I got to the wall of trees the more I thought I recognized it, and I passed the wall of trees and there was a pond and an outbuilding and THE DUCKS.


I can’t explain how happy that made me, but it did.There’s an information graphic now, explaining the whole history. Chuck Pilling was the FIRST to breed hooded mergansers in captivity, also two other ducks. He got awards for it. He was a legend. He helped design the waterfowl exhibit at the zoo (which is a very fine one). I got teary as hell reading it.

May be an image of bird, nature and body of water

Wikipedia on Pilling’s Pond.

The infographic that made me want to blub:

May be an image of 3 people, outdoors and tree

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