First, there was a white duck, then a rooster and then a mallard made three.
The unlikely trio have become fast friends, delighting residents at the Heritage at Lowman retirement community along the north side of Lake Murray.
The three spend most days around Lowman’s one-acre pond, the two ducks swimming and the rooster strutting along the edge, keeping an eye out for intruders and crowing periodically.
In the evenings, the three can be seen huddled together, nesting on shore.
“It’s a joy to watch this group of misfits,” said Melissa Yetter, Lowman’s executive director.
Many of the home’s 360 residents, along with volunteers and staff, have taken an interest in the odd avian triplets, taking photographs and even writing stories about them.
“Although they are from two different worlds,” volunteer Jan Hopkins said, “there was no denying the chemistry.”
The white duck with a permanent limp was the pond’s first resident, staying year-round because of its injury. It had a mate, which mysteriously disappeared.
Then, about two years ago, the rooster – nicknamed Cocky, after the University of South Carolina’s mascot – showed up.
Lowman officials believe the rooster was left at the retirement community, which encompasses about 1,000 acres in rural White Rock.
The rooster quickly bonded with the duck.
The mallard arrived late last fall, settling on the pond that is a stop for migratory waterfowl.
“It’s an unusual sight, them being together all the time,” resident Margaret Zeigler said. “They’re so much fun to watch.”
Residents who walk on the quarter-mile exercise path around the pond provide regular updates on the birds to others whose infirmities prevent them from joining in the strolls.
And, while Lowman officials make sure the birds are fed an appropriate chicken and duck diet, residents can’t resist doling out the occasional treat.
“They’re certainly a source of entertainment and the talk of the community,” said Ashley Hyman, who oversees recreation at Lowman. “This is a social therapy that found us and provides a lot of enjoyment.”