Duckling report

All eight ducklings are alive and well—thriving in fact. It’s still anxiety-provoking to feed them, as Frank is dominant over Honey and her brood, and tries to chase them away from food. It’s best to separate them, and to do that you need two people. Fortunately, Sanja showed up yesterday afternoon to feed Frank while I took care of Honey and her family. Then we switched places.

I still need to get more food down Honey, as she’s too attentive to eat while I feed mealworms to her brood. I’ve also tried new foods:

Cheerios: not a big hit with either Mom or brood
Lettuce: (red-leaf kind) ditto; nobody eats it
Corn: Honey loves it, but because it sinks I have to feed her on land, and she won’t come ashore if Frank is around.
Chick starter food: A kind person sent me a ten-pound bag of finely ground chick “starter” food, which is also great for ducklings, and they like it; but it sinks quickly in the water and therefore can be fed only on land—the usual problem. If I could only get the family on land and keep Frank away from them!
Mealworms: The perennial favorite, and good because a. they float and b. Frank doesn’t like them. But that’s not a balanced diet. I trust the family gets other stuff from foraging in the pond.

I’ll also try fruit this week.

Here’s Sanja feeding mealworms to the brood yesterday. When they get big enough, perhaps they can get names, though they’ll still be indistinguishable. Note that you can see all eight ducklings.

Frank and Henry pal around, but Honey regularly chases Henry out of the pond while Frank goes after her. The dominance hierarchy is weird. Here they look as if they’re enemies, but they’re not. Frank is also dominant over Henry at feeding time. I still feed the drakes, but Honey (who is thinner) is the one who really needs to be fed up.

Frank, on the left, has a lighter breast, which makes me think he’s a backcross hybrid involving a white duck somewhere in his ancestry. Henry (right) has the typical brown breast of a wild drake.

More reports as things develop. The ducklings are perceptibly bigger than they were a few days ago. Fingers crossed!


  1. Frank Bath
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Can you pop Honey’s corn to keep it afloat, see if she’ll eat it?

  2. Becky
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Would one of those folding pet fences help? One might be portable enough for you to take with you to the pond and you could use it between Honey with her ducklings and Frank at feeding time.

    Posted May 26, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    How about making a floating duckling corn feeding raft (styrofoam?) tethered with a string?

    • Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I had the same thought too. A ballast rigged up underneath would help keep it upright.

    • Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Frank would either sink it or climb aboard and glut himself!

  4. Bob Bottemiller
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Suggestion for anti-Frank weapon: squirt gun. You might find a small, pistol-like item at at toy store. I’m guessing a squirt or two of (clean) water at Frank’s feet, chest or bill would discourage him. And no “concealed carry” permit required.

    • Posted May 26, 2018 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      I am dubious that water will repel a duck! Still, it may be worth a try.

  5. mikeyc
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Oats? They float. I think they’re good food for ducks. Maybe Honey would like them.

  6. Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    As I mentioned a while back, a small roll of chicken wire would make a great ad hoc play pen. It would be quite portable all rolled up like a yoga mat, not too heavy, and inexpensive to purchase. You could carry twist ties to secure the ends together, penning up you and your brood during feeding time. I don’t think Frank and Henry would try to fly over the fence.

    • Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Honey would freak out and fly away, and I have to respect Buildings and Grounds’s wishes to keep the pond pristine.

      • Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I see; you’re probably right about spooking Honey, Jerry. As for nutritious water-lettuce and duckweed, they’d help to keep the pond water clear, keeping algae in check, and providing an alternate food course for all the critters.

  7. Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear I don’t have to worry about ducks eating my Cheerios. Not Honey anyway. One of our cats, Zing, does eat them however. He tries to stick his head in my bowl every time I have them. Of course, he will eat virtually anything so it’s no surprise Cheerios are on his menu.

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I know that Cheerios are oats, so my suggestion that you try oat flakes may be redundant, but I suggest (to wax a bit biblical syntactically) that you cast thy handful of oat flakes upon the waters. Flakes might be more palatable. However, they may be averse to oats in any form; if so,the outcome would be just as Ecclesiastes stated: “for thou shalt find it after many days.”

    Again, I suggest trying frozen diced carrots.

    • Posted May 26, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I tried oatmeal last year; Honey didn’t like it but I haven’t tried it with the ducklings this year. Fortunately, I have some in the lab so I’ll try it tomorrow.

      I think diced carrots may be too large for these little guys. They can’t even get down a whole mealworm: I have to crush them. And they can’t swallow a single corn kernel.

      • Linda Calhoun
        Posted May 26, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        The feed you just ordered is only 3/32″ in diameter, so I think you’re probably right about other stuff being too big for them to swallow.


      • ladyatheist
        Posted May 26, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        You can buy shredded carrots at the store. If the ducklings don’t like them, there are probably bunnies around that will clean it up.

      • Taz
        Posted May 26, 2018 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        What about corn flakes? They’ll float.

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 26, 2018 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I love the duckling reports! My life is largely lived vicariously, and the ducks are an important part of it. 🙂

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    How about those banana flakes you use for Drosophila? They oughtta float for a short while till they hydrate.

  11. Posted May 27, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Does Henry lack a blue spot on the wing?

  12. Posted May 28, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink


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