Tuesday: Duck report

Anna reports that “Frank’s friend,” as I call him, has appeared again. He’s a wild mallard with a brown bib (Frank, with a lighter bib, surely has some domestic duck in him), and is visible in the photo and video below. He’s too shy to take food by hand, and I, like Anna, am wondering if we should feed him. My worry is that he and Frank will start competing for food, and Wild Duck will hang around and do damage to Honey’s ducklings—if she ever shows up.  If you know about ducks, weigh in. Duck-tending is no picnic! There’s always something to worry about!

Meanwhile, Anna reports:

One advantage to Frank liking being hand fed is that the wild drake doesn’t get the food. Wild drake is way too scared for hand feeding.

And a short video showing that only Frank comes to the whistle. But I still feel  sorry for Unfed Wild Drake:


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 8, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    The only rule I know about feeding the ducks and geese and swans…they say don’t do it.

    • Posted May 8, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink


    • Posted May 8, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Sorry, but I helped Honey raise four healthy ducklings last year by feeding them. If you say don’t feed the ducks and geese because they become dependent on humans, they you should be consistent and say that nobody should be feeding birds.

      Down with bird feeders!

      Sorry, but I don’t need people telling me now to feed the ducks. I’ve already had enough of that.

      • Posted May 8, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I totally agree that feeding Honey and her ducklings was a rewarding experience for all involved and your attempts to feed (essentially) only two birds does no real harm.

        I’ll just leave this as an explanation for why I agree with Randall.


        • Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          NONE of those explanations apply to my feeding only a single duck in a single pond.

          Do you agree, then, that NOBODY should ever have a birdfeeder? I expect answers here. And then those with birdfeeders (many of our readers) should reply.

          Jesus, do I have to get into a fracas for feeding one lousy family of ducks?

          • Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            No. I am sorry to offend. I regret speaking my mind.

            You’ve done nothing wrong and neither do people who have bird feeders. I said why *I* won’t feed ducks or geese, no matter how cute they are. Mostly I won’t because many parks in my town cannot be used in the summer because people feed water fowl, but also (mainly) for the reasons cited by the Audubon. Your mileage will vary.

            I will point out though that your Frank does appear to be a hybrid and the link I sent suggests that is a real danger to wild populations.

            I hope Honey comes back with a new, healthy brood for you to care for until they leave.

            • Posted May 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

              I do not understand why hybridization is bad. Doesn’t it just give more diversity to be sorted out by natural selection? I don’t think ancestors of modern non-Africans were damaged from their hybridization with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

              • Posted May 8, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                It’s true that hybridization adds genetic diversity. I submit though that to the extent we did hybridize with the Neanderthals and Denisovans it doesn’t seem to have worked out for them.

              • Posted May 8, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

                I think they had little problem with our hybridization; the problem was our competition.
                If a group is a single species, its members view each other in an ambivalent way: as competitors (negative) and as potential reproductive partners (positive).
                If populations get upgraded to new species, the positive aspect disappears, and all their interaction is competition. At least, it seems so to me.

              • Posted May 8, 2018 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

                “I think they had little problem with our hybridization; the problem was our competition.”

                These are not necessarily different problems. We will likely never know why those two subspecies of humans disappeared but clearly any added genetic diversity by hybridization with us didn’t keep them around.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Dare I say…Why did you ask?

        • Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          Dare I answer: I asked if we should feed the wild duck as it might disrupt the ducks I love, NOT whether I should feed any ducks, period.

  2. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 8, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Yo! Will I be blown out of the water and put in my place if I remark that this dust-up (above) puts me in mind of, what else — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgGMInTqTo? Quacking ducks. And how did this ultimately begin? Very ducky, of course,over a (now absent) female. Dudes, don’t get your feathers ruffled, cut the quackery, have a handful of frozen corn and some foie gras and chill.

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