If you’ve spent any time on Muskegon Lake or Muskegon River this past summer or fall, it’s likely you’ve run into Howard the duck.
“I go to Muskegon Lake, Musegon River, the lakes around here, and all the kids will scream, ‘Hi Howard!’ And I’m like, what about his owner?” laughed Jonathan Bordeau, a Muskegon resident who brought a baby Howard home with him last spring in order to have a kayaking buddy.
“I’ve been thinking about bringing a duck on the river for a while,” Bordeau said. “You see dogs in people’s kayaks, and I thought, ‘What the heck; I should get a duck.’”
Now, Howard—who’s named after George Lucas’ “Howard the Duck,” a 1986 comedy that’s based on the cult favorite Marvel Comics series of the same name—lives at Bordeau’s home and spends his days embarking on adventures with his owner.
“I also have three chickens, who are his girlfriends I guess,” Bordeau said.
After growing up with ducks, Bordeau said he knew “ducks are pretty smart” and has been deeply happy to have his waterfowl companion accompany him on his outdoor escapades. The two have become a favorite sight in the area, and Bordeau’s friend even started a Howard the Duck Facebook page, where fans can keep up with Howard and Bordeau’s travels.
A Rouen duck who Bordeau said “has colors really close to a Mallard, which is why he’s so awesome,” Howard likes most of the humans who come his way—but that doesn’t mean he won’t turn up the sass every now and then.
“He’s got a little attitude,” Bordeau said “He’ll nibble your hand if he wants you to go away.”
As for his favorite human? That’s got to be Bordeau.
“He follows me everywhere I go,” the owner said. “He just tried flying a couple weeks ago, and the other day he flew away from me. When I got back to my kayak, he was there waiting for me.”
“He eats the horse flies off my back and neck; I don’t have to worry about horse flies anymore,” he continued. “He can talk, too. If I say his name, he’ll start going, ‘quack, quack, quack.’”
In addition to going out on the water, Howard and Bordeau regularly go camping together.
“He hangs out by the campfire,” Bordeau said and added that Howard even seems to want to partake in human revelry.
“He tries to steal the beer out of my hand,” he laughed.
As winter nears, Bordeau is hoping to bring Howard on the road and has launched a Go Fund Me account to try and raise money for them to travel to the country’s warmer climates.
“We’re hoping to go all the way to California until it gets warm again in Michigan,” Bordeau said.
Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Photos courtesy of Howard’s human friends. You can connect with Anna by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.