When the ducks quit flying, Pepe, Jorge, and Bartolo gathered our birds and led us back to the trucks. We arranged the birds on the gravel road to take stock: a few pichiguilas, two drake pintails with long sprigs, shovelers, several bluewings, and two drake cinnamon teal—neither of which was mine. I would have loved to bring one home for the wall, but it was still a pleasure just to hold these birds. The feathers on their heads and necks were a rich, rare bronze, and their wings, when you stretched them wide, resembled an oil painter's palette—a thoughtful smattering of wild colors fit for a masterpiece. I had no claim to either bird, but that didn't stop me from plucking just one of the small teal wing feathers. I tucked it inside my notebook, and later taped it to a page. I hope its color never fades.