Sunday DuckLog

Thanks to readers’ suggestions, I now have a name for Honey’s drake. The winner (sorry, no prize this time) is “Sir Francis”, which I’ll shorten to “Francis” or “Frank” for short. “Frank and Honey” sounds good.

They’ve been at the pond constantly, and I’m hoping they’re there for good. The gestation time for an egg is about a month, so perhaps in a few weeks we’ll have ducklings. (I’ve seen no sign of a nest, but I never have.) Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s afternoon feeding.

Frank in a formal pose. Sharp-eyed reader Taskin noticed that Frank didn’t have a brown chest, which normal male mallards do (see here). He could be the offspring of a cross between a wild mallard and a domesticated white mallard, like the male in the fourth picture on this site.

Birders: is this a normal drake mallard, or is he carrying genes from domesticated ducks?

I never get over the beauty of his head feathers, with their combination of purple and green iridescent hues:

Postprandial preening:

Honey finding the last few mealworms on the edge of the pond:

The happy couple. They like to sit on the duck island. Since Physical Plant doesn’t ensure it remains above the water line, this means that their feet get wet. I wish I could get the University to lower the pond level about eight inches or so, which would give them a dry bit of land to sit on.

 

26 Comments

  1. Posted April 8, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Sunday Ducklog? Isn’t that the Canadian National Dish? LOL

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    A car tyre [tire] sprayed green would fit perfectly on Duck Island – pop along at 4am in your best hoodie & wellies & get it done [smear mud on your car tags].

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Decorate tyre with official-looking university property inventory code on an attached label.

    • Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      I could probably get permission for that, but I think I’ll ask if they can lower the water level–something they’re capable of doing.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 8, 2018 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        How about sponsoring a higher duck island? Lowering the water level might have unforeseen effects like reducing natural food for the ducks, or making it harder for the squirrels to drink, or making the water too wsrm for the fish in summer, or freeze more easily. (Obviously I have no idea whether that would happen.)

  3. Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Were Trixie and Norton chased away?

  4. Glenda Palmer
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Honey’s man has been named Sir Francis and many of us were thinking ‘Drake’ which put me in mind of a little Mallard drake/duck story.

    I have lived along Mill Creek for many years and have had the great pleasure of observing ducks, squirrels, other birds and mammals in the neighbourhood. The second fall here I noticed a complete absence of males. Not one. Lots of females, more than ever it seemed. I got in touch with my birding friend and asked about it – where did all the boys go? The reply was “Drakes are in drag”. I learned that the drakes mold and loose all their bright colours – looking like the females. You can only tell the difference if you know about the beak colours. The fellas tend to band together during this time. Then the new colours come in brighter and better than ever and they are ready to go courting again. 😀

    • peter
      Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Drakes should keep the little curl in or above their tail feathers even when in drag. See first photo for little curl feathers.

      • Glenda Palmer
        Posted April 9, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        I keep learning – will be looking for curl in drake tail feathers next moult season. In the meanwhile here at Mill Creek most all the Mallards are waddling around in ducky couples. Not as cold here as Chicago but it’s been an unseasonably cool spring here too.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    They should create an actual Island in the pond with dirt, grass or some ground cover. Waterfowl like the Island in a lake or pond and will make the nest there. Much safer than on shore. Some of the predators cannot get to the nest this way.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 8, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      There is a very large island at one end taking up nearly half the pond. It has very good cover in places. Unfortunately it also has two classical-styled hundred year old mini-bridges for pedestrians to shortcut across one end of the pond using the island. A moat could divide that island in two with one half for pedestrians & the other side for ducks etc.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Here’s a view showing one of the two bridges: To the left is ‘mainland’ & to the right is island:
      https://www.hoerrschaudt.com/project/university-of-chicago-botany-pond/

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted April 8, 2018 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        Yes, very nice looking but probably not going to work for our purpose. I was thinking more of being able to keep the raccoons, cats and other 4 legged types away.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          why wouldn’t it keep creatures away? With a moat they’d have to swim. I now see that part of the island is fenced off with water access only. There’s reeds & stuff at that point – perhaps that’s the designated nursery already. In that link pictures 2 & 5 show the steel fencing.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted April 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Here’s the existing map – you can see the ‘island’ has a good gap from the mainland. Raccoons can swim for hours so there’s no reasonable protection except camo & being aggressive parents.
        botony

        • Posted April 8, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          Sadly, that map isn’t accurate; the island is now connected to the “mainland” at the northeast corner so the water isn’t continuous. The only solution is to enlarge the small cement rings (there are four, two of which have trees growing from them) or lower the water level. It’s impossible to get the University to do anything about that. A colleague and I had to fight for two years to get them to put up a duck fence and a ramp so the babies could get out of the water and yet be kept away from people and other animals.

  6. Posted April 8, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Good choice for name; sorry I gone for the naming suggestions – I would have gone with Dew 🙂

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    This is a very handsome duck pair. If the other pair return, things could get interesting.

  8. Roger
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Darn I was hoping you would name it “Everybody”. That way when you call it you would say “hey Everybody Duck” and then everyone would duck!

    • Posted April 9, 2018 at 12:40 am | Permalink

      Or maybe “Cover”. As in “Duck and Cover”.

  9. Liz
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I very much like the name. Looked it up and loved it. The meaning of my dream last night with the translucent green bar of soap was because of this, in part, but mostly other things.

  10. Paul Matthews
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    I can confirm that Francis has a slightly unusual colour pattern for a drake mallard as he seems paler and lacks much of the brown chest band. He could be a cross between a wild and domestic mallard but another possibility is that he is leucistic, leucism being a pigmentary deficiency that makes animals completely or partially white or paler. I think leucism is not that rare in birds. I hasten to add that I have no expertise on this subject. I find it interesting that this problem has not prevented Francis from finding a mate: perhaps the green head is what really matters!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 8, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Plus Chicago Frank “so bill me” LeDuck’s got a certain swagger in his waddle – maybe connected.

    • Posted April 8, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      I think domestic genes would have a larger and more dramatic effect. Most duck hybrids are blotchy, not so elegantly attired as Sir Francis.I suspect it is an unusual but natural variation.

  11. glen1davidson
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I think besides the pale breast, the purple on his head indicates domestic duck genes.

    Glen Davidson

  12. Posted April 9, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos I love the Mallard duck!


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