Duck report: Honey is AWOL

My ducksitters are Anna Mueller, a newish assistant professor in the Department of Human Development at the University of Chicago, and her graduate student Sanja Miklin. I’m grateful to these two animal lovers for making the daily feeding trip to Botany Pond.

I’ve been receiving occasional reports from Anna about Honey and Frank. Apparently they’ve learned the duck-summoning whistle, and both ducks have learned to eat out of their hands. The bonding experience is clearly in full swing.

Sadly, however, Honey hasn’t been seen in two days, and I’m quite worried. Here’s Anna’s report:

When I went to the pond yesterday [two days ago] to feed, only Frank was there. There was a really noisy lawn crew working around the pond (with mini bulldozers even) so I thought maybe she was just hiding. I hoped she’d be back today but she wasn’t. Frank was there again and I started to feed him, continuing to whistle for Honey. Then a second male joined us. Frank (light-chested male) eventually chased him off. The video is of some of their antics.  [JAC: The video didn’t come through as it was too large. I hope to post it after I return to Chicago.]

I suggest that Sanja and I keep feeding Frank   (So far he only eats the corn from me if Honey isn’t there). I didn’t want to put out worms as well with the enemy male around so I just left Frank with what I had put down before the male arrived.

I looked for Honey on the nest and around the brush but didn’t see her.

Kinda bummed. Hope she comes back.

I wrote back expressing (uncharacteristic) optimism that perhaps Honey was sitting on the nest or nesting someplace more quiet.  Anna responded:

We are hoping she’s nesting somewhere too…we have looked around but haven’t seen her on a nest (including the nest on the window ledge…)  We are continuing to feed Frank. We really enjoy him. It’s been quite the highlight of our days…

Note how regular feeding of ducks is a life-enhancing experience! Anyway, stay tuned. Here ere are two picture of Anna feeding Frank, one by hand:

I won’t ask for thoughts and prayers, but I do want my mallard hen back! I think it’s a good sign that Frank is patrolling the pond and driving off interlopers. I like to think he’s keeping the place safe for his wife and brood.


  1. Posted April 25, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I hope you see her again soon, Jerry.

  2. busterggi
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Geez Louise, I can’t take this kind of suspense and I’m no being sarcastic.

  3. David Jorling 971.998.2320
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Honey has a new boyfriend here in Oregon, named Puddles. I caught them entering Peets coffee in Lake Oswego.

  4. Posted April 25, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Miss Honey is in the family way and has retired to her boudoir.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    You can never tell about ducks. I had a couple here (mallards) and they had a bunch of young ones, maybe 11. I did not see them for 3 or 4 days then suddenly, they were back.

    • Posted April 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      If Honey and Frank were gone for a few days, I wouldn’t worry. However it is unsettling that the loyal gentleman(who lets Honey feed first!)is by himself.

      • Posted April 25, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        At the risk of offending anatidophiles, drakes can be called many things, but “gentleman” is not one that springs to mind. Duck sex is violent and very rapey.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted April 25, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          In other words you are saying, he would drop her like a bad habit?

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted April 25, 2018 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          We know. But we choose not to think about it. #NotAllDrakes.

      • Posted April 25, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        I know they can be nasty, but Frank really did regularly let Honey feed first.

  6. BJ
    Posted April 25, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    While North Korea prepares for negotiations, Honey The Duck, America’s secret weapon, makes her way across the border. Her mission: take a virus developed by the Platypus Strike Force and plant it in the mainframe at the heart of the underground nuclear development site, and then escape without detection.

    If Honey succeeds, nobody will ever know she was even involved. The fact that Honey is unknown to the world after so many decades of covert operations is a testament to her skills in subterfuge, sabotage, and espionage. If history is any indication, Honey will once again be a hero, unsung by all but the three or four men who belong to her department. Because that’s what a true hero duck does: they risk their lives carrying out missions of great danger, not for glory, nor even for recognition, but for her country and the world.

    The world will never know what Honey has done, but she will, and that’s enough for her.

  7. Posted April 26, 2018 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    It is nesting season.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted April 26, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      That was my thought, too.

      If she’s setting a clutch, she’s not going to be out there much, plus, she’s not going to be all that easy to find, either.


      • Hempenstein
        Posted April 26, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink


        • Mike
          Posted April 26, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          I think she be off somewhere incubating her Clutch, do Ducks share the incubating in a similar way to other Birds ? I’m currently watching a pair of Bald Eagles ,and they share the incubating duties. If the Duck is the only one who sits on the Eggs, might be an idea to follow Sir Francis if he’s feeding her which he would have to do if she was the sole incubator.

  8. Dominic
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Well done Department of Comparative Human Development & shame on the blooming biologists who have failed us!

    • Posted April 26, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Indeed! Not a single student in my department volunteered to duck-sit–even for pay!!

  9. another fred
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    If a bird attracts too much attention on a new nest she will abandon it and make another elsewhere. Hopefully, that is all that has happened.

    I had a pet duck when I was a kid. Was really bummed out when a neighbor’s dog killed it.

  10. Duckmomma
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I thought something was dispatching my ducks in a most disturbing way. I had been heartbroken for weeks. 😦 Until last week when first Cinderella came home with 12 little waddlers and then Smuttette came home with 8 of them!

  11. Paul Matthews
    Posted April 26, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Drakes typically don’t stick around once the eggs are laid–it’s up to the female to incubate and raise the young alone. I suspect Honey isn’t far away but is inconspicuously incubating her clutch. I think there’s a good chance that she’ll reappear at some point with ducklings.

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