Monday DuckLog

It snowed last night, but Honey and Frank were still there, and boy were they hungry! I suspect this is the place they’ll hang their hats and produce a brood.  My main worry is who’s gonna take care of the ducks for the two weeks that I’ll be gone soon, and then later when I’m out of the U.S. for 12 days.  Our graduate students were asked by an administrator if they’d be willing to care for the ducks for a payment, but none volunteered: they said it was “too much responsibility.” I am deeply disappointed—and these are biology students!

But there’s good news, too: the Powers that Be have promised me that they’ll lower the pond level so that the ducks (and their ducklings) will have a dry place to rest, free from predators (which are largely feral cats around here).

And here’s daily skinny on the ducks.

Yesterday afternoon they wouldn’t come for food; they were too busy resting and snoozing on the duck island, as the weather had warmed up. As always, Frank is vigilant, guarding Honey while she rests.

I didn’t think they’d be around this morning, but when I whistled they came right to the bank and, using their wings, flapped themselves over a high ledge and onto the bank. They then waddled quickly toward me through the snow, downing a hearty breakfast of corn and mealworms. And they left ducky footprints in the snow:

Remnants of the loving couple approaching me together:


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Too much responsibility? To feed animals? I guess getting up in the morning must be a real struggle.

  2. Liz
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Too much responsibility!? I would do it if I lived anywhere near there. No payment.

    • Christopher
      Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, me too! I’d consider it an honor to care for them, if I didn’t live 8+ hours south of Chicago. If I still lived near Aurora, I’d still attempt ta do so some of the days.

  3. busterggi
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    “too much responsibility.”

    I hope none of them figure on becoming parents.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Your care of these lovely creatures is moving. And I am getting pretty attached to Frank as he is a devoted and attentive fella.

  5. BobTerrace
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Try the undergrads.

    • Posted April 9, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      I second that. Also does the univ. have a vet school there? Maybe they’ll help.

      I’d buy many bags of duck weed and really sock up the pond. That’ll propagate and tide them over nicely.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    WTF? Have kids today never minded a neighbor’s pet while the neighbor was on vacation? Ever babysat a younger sibling? Ever delivered newspapers on a buddy’s route while the buddy was outta town?

    • Bob
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      No, they haven’t. If the newspaper is delivered, it is an adult in an automobile. I get mine on the Internet. Babysit!? Helicopter parents would never permit it.

  7. W.T. Effingham
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    “Ducky footprints” has a sort of double meaning, particularly the image with two sets of tracks.

  8. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Not the first time I’ve noticed kids don’t do the things they once did, mow lawns, deliver newspapers. Have you any friends with kids? Grandkids? Undergrads a good bet — you can offer them a glowing recommendation to grad school.

  9. Simon Hayward
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Forwarded the page to a friend on campus with 4 grad students. See if any of them bite. Ducks don’t have a prostate so they may not be interested 😉

  10. Laurance
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Sorry I’m in Pennsylvania! If I were in Illinois I’d gladly duck-sit for free.

  11. XCellKen
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Check out how Frank is Manspreading ™. What a Dude Bro ™

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Maybe an automatic feeder, but there is the issue of powering it.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      That the Powers That Be can talk about choosing what level to maintain the pond at rather implies at least sensors, logic and a sluice gate (if not a pump of noticeable power). On that basis alone, I expect there to be power of some level, hopefully on an RCD circuit, most likely low voltage so US domestic 115V AC equipment would most likely work with just a re-plugging.
      As a separate issue, it’s unlikely that there isn’t any street lighting in the vicinity, and plugging temporary equipment into the lighting circuit is a routine thing. There’s a “car counter” just round the corner that is plugged into (and chained onto) a lamp post.

      • Andrea Kenner
        Posted April 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Some of them are gravity-fed. I don’t think they’ll be turning the gravity off anytime soon.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          Thinking for three seconds further, there’s nothing intrinsically impossible about a mechanism on a clockwork timer. It’s probably more expensive than a digital dookicky, but equally has fewer failure modes.
          Hell, we still use clockwork backup equipment in digital derricks with Captain Kirk “control chairs”.

  13. Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the grad students are too cautious, thinking that they would be blamed if something happens to the ducks. I wish the elementary school teacher from last year to come back!

  14. samitchell79
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    These are wild animals, not pets. Oy vay! Get a cat Jerry.

    • Posted April 9, 2018 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but I don’t think you understand (either that or you’re being rude). I am bonding with wild animals and I really like it. Yes, it involves food, but so what?

      • samitchell79
        Posted April 11, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

        Might I suggest a funnel and corn, then we could entertain the idea of pate in the near future. If your going to feed them then do it with purpose.

  15. Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Cannot the ducks feed themselves while you are away? They must have done that before you adopted them.

    • Posted April 10, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      One of the reasons people often say that wild animals shouldn’t be fed by humans is because they will get used to it.

  16. Posted April 9, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    If it wasn’t a seven-hour drive from Pittsburgh I’d come feed your ducks. Just like I feed my daughter’s chickens or my neighbor’s cat when they’re gone.

    Sheesh, kids today 😉

  17. Bill Morrison
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    The drake has an atypical breast coloration. It could be that there was a hybridization event or a mutation in his ancestry. Mallards are known to hybridize with birds of many other species and even with birds of other genera.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 9, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I hadn’t known about that. Fascinating.

      I just found this web page about mallard hybrids It couldn’t start out better: “Mallards can be dirty ducks. Very, very, dirty ducks. And while ducks in general are known for their hybridizing ways, none are as prolific and undiscriminating as Anas platyrhynchos. “

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 10, 2018 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Without digging out the infamous paper about the homosexual (homoduckual?) necrophiliac bird-on-bird rape, wasn’t the guilty party a Mallard. Well, the live party – guilt is harder to attribute.

  18. Nicholas K.
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I know how you feel about cats, but this is one reason I do not support feral cat colonies in the city — they kill too many birds.

  19. Posted April 10, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    BTW, the top photo is beautiful.

  20. Andrea Kenner
    Posted April 10, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Could you possibly buy them a poultry feeder? There are a lot of different models listed on Amazon.

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