We have NINE ducklings! (And the mom is probably Honey)

When I went to the pond this morning, as I said, I saw no female duck nor any ducklings. My heart was heavy. But of course I stopped by again to feed Frank (and his drake pal Henry) on my way to the store to buy corn for the fowl and food for myself. This time, I heard some peeps from the bank. There, huddled on the shore, was mom (I’m still not sure if she’s Honey) with NINE—count them, NINE—very young ducklings.  I immediately ran upstairs, thawed some corn and filled a beaker with mealworms, and went back to the pond, trying to feed everyone but keeping the drakes and family apart. (Frank is aggressive and drives mom away from the food.) I managed to feed Frank and Henry on the shore, while giving mom corn on the bank and the whole family mealworms in the water. It was no picnic, believe me. At times I had to shoo Frank away from the others.

I’m not sure where the other seven ducklings came from; perhaps they hatched last night or were just hidden while I rescued two wayward siblings from the duck island (aka “the duck trap”) yesterday.

It’s going to be a long summer, but, I hope, a fulfilling one.  Now if I can just get Physical Plant to pitch in and do what they promised to do (they failed to put in a ramp last night, but swear that they’ll fill in the duck island today). If they don’t, I’ll go into the pond again.  I guess this is my family for the summer!

Some photos. Yes, there are nine wee ones. Here they’re eating mealworms. Mom, as expected, was ravenous.

Ducklings foraging amidst the lily pads:

Mom from half an hour ago.

New mom: beak markings enlarged:

 

The real Honey; photos from last year:

I’d like to think this is Honey, as the stippled beak marks bear a resemblance to the real Honey, though the dark triangle at the base of the left side of her bill doesn’t match. But stippling like this is unusual in hen mallards, and, as experts have said, the pigmentation changes over time. What do you think?

Regardless, she and her brood are my responsibility now.

UPDATE: Physical Plant, despite its promises, won’t help out this weekend. So I’m going to the store with Anna and am going to buy bricks to fill up the duck island. That involves multiple trips through cold water. Good thing I brought some swimming trunks today!

 

47 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Great news

    FYI you can’t just put any old lumber in there. For example it could be pressure treated – great for outdoors, bad for living things.

    Composite would be good but slippery unless further prepared. So the ducklings will slip.

    I don’t know, but is cedar good? Teak?

    Anyhow I hope there’ll be a good design to see soon.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      I was considering bricks or the smaller size cinder blocks.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        Mmmm

        You know I bet a trip to the local garden center might turn up a cheap clearance item or two… well, local for maybe way suburb of Chicago.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        For a quick solution pending bureaucratic intervention, a couple wetted and crumpled cardboard boxes would suffice.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

          Oooo good idea – and even those waxed ones might be better – grippy like a surfboard?

          OCC(E) could inquire at the grocery for such boxes today!

          • ThyroidPlanet
            Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

            P not O

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        It just occurred to me that, as a bonus, this might also qualify as an Art Installation.

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this. We’re making sure that the duck ramp to be put up tomorrow will be made of untreated cedar.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, PCC(E)!

    Last night, during the rain, 5 ducks walked by down the street at my Florida home. One came over to me, but I have no food for them (or for me, since I am closing the place to go north for the summer). Later, I went for an errand and they were around the corner, eating on the lawns.

  3. GBJames
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I think the difficulty in identifying Honey and her doppelgängers is why bird bands were invented!

  4. Lee Beringsmith
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    You just made my day with these photos. Thanks so much for my morning smile.

  5. BJ
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I find myself relieved. Even I have grown attached to these lil’ duckers.

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Oy! You are going to be kept very busy. But birds grow quickly, and it will be fun to watch it happen.

  7. Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, might as well be Honey. You’ll only know if another duck comes along that is more Honey than this one. 🙂

  8. Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I’ll bet mealworms would be very depressed if they knew they were called mealworms.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      LOL!

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        It’s an apt name for two obvious reasons.

  9. Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    It would be an astonishing coincidence if this was not the same bird given the similarity in bill markings. The dark triangle is still there in the same position – just shrunk a little.

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Yes, I see it now; it’s just a bit more pale. IT’S HER!

      • Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        I noticed that too and agree! She wasn’t eating much while brooding, so things will colour in over time, as suspected.

        Congrats, Grandpa! 🙂 ❤

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        I think it’s her. It’s not just the similarity in markings, it’s the behaviour of her being confident enough to bring all those lovely ducklings to you to be fed.

        I’m so pleased she’s back!

        You’re a granddad! 😀

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          Yup, looks like Honey. No wonder she wasn’t around for so long – 9 eggs to brood! That’s a lot o settin’.

      • LB
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        It sure looks like it’s Honey! Congrats!! This made my day. 🙂

      • Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        🙂

  10. Christopher
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Well, the fact that she came to you when you whistled the first time you saw here this year, without any prior training, (if I am remembering this correctly) makes me think that if she isn’t the original Honey, she’s one of her descendants from last year.

    Either way, congratulations are in order! And of course you know you can’t go on any more trips until the ducklings have grown up!

  11. Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    In my considered opinion, it is Honey. Congrats, Pop!

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Yep, I’m pretty sure it is. She’s added five to her brood size from last year!

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Photo comparison of triangle:
    honey

  13. Michael Fisher
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Photo comparison of the other side [“new mum” is bottom in both pics I’ve uploaded]
    honey top

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Yeah, they’re not identical, but similar enough to convince me this is Honey, and I’m trying to avoid confirmation bias!

  14. alexandra Moffat
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Ducklings and Undoubtedly Honey!

    Absolutely fantastic good news!! Which should have driven all the Royal foufoorah off the
    front pages!!

  15. Richard Jones
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    And what a handsome family it is.

  16. David Duncan
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    “Good thing I brought some swimming trunks today!”

    Pictures, or it didn’t happen.

  17. Frank Bath
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Great news.

  18. Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I bet Physical Plant has a dossier on you by now.

  19. Dale Pickard
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    May Dog bless you Dr. Coyne!

  20. Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Great news!

  21. Posted May 20, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Great job!

  22. Cindi Deschane
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel this is our honey that we along with you have been following since last year. It is sad that she and her chicks have not returned yet. While it is ok to help the new hen she is not “honey” and therefore cannot replace her…

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure she is given the match of the markings.

      I’ve declared that she’s Honey based on the match and so that’s what I’ll call her. Besides, she was here not long ago, and it’s about the right time from when we last saw her until the ducklings first appeared: one month (gestation period for eggs).

  23. Paul S
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Dunno, a nice meal with friends by a pond, sounds like a picnic to me.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      Just don’t have duck.

  24. jhs
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    My university Facilities Management would not be happy if I move a chair into my office or put a nail into the wall. Faculty members are not to do their jobs, and are not allowed to do any “alternations” to university properties. 🙂

  25. Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow!

    Ducklings are among the cutest and most endearing baby animals. 🙂

  26. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 23, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, papa! Have a cigar!


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