Sunday: duck report

Well, the ducks are now taking to their fancy vet-approved “waterfowl starter food”, so they’re easier to feed. I just ordered two more 25-pound bags; as Randy Schenck said, this qualifies me as a Duck Farmer. So be it. Here are pictures from today’s three feedings:

Mom and brood in the morning:

They’re cute when they’re lined up behind Mom two by two, like a school class behind the teacher:

An adorable duckling foraging in the lily pads. He looks suspicious.

They all forage in the lily pads. I’m not sure what they’re eating there: perhaps insects.

One is the loneliest number

Two is better:

And three is better still:

Two of the brood nibble on an Iris in the pond. I guess they were just tasting it.

And of course all the credit for this brood belongs to my beloved Honey, who gives up her food for her brood:


  1. Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I soooo look forward to these pics and your captions! Makes me smile…

  2. Karen Fierman
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    These pics are SO good, so cute! They’ve made me smile. Thanks!

    • Diane G
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      What she said!

  3. FB
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Last year there were two ducks? Now there are eleven. My guess for 2019 is btwn 50 and 60.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      No, there were five last year: Honey and a brood of four. All four fledged, and Honey returned this year, which delighted me.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    … as Randy Schenck said, this qualifies me as a Duck Farmer.

    Long as you’re layin’ off the gavage, boss, we cool.

  5. Debbie Coplan
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I so enjoy the updates. They are such cute ducklings. Their feathers look almost like fur in the pictures.

    • Diane G
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Looks like they’re still completely covered in down. Will be fun to see their flight and contour feathers start to appear. 🙂

  6. Christopher
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Duck farmer? So when do we get to see you in coveralls and a straw hat to go with the appropriate boots?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      What he needs to do now is check in at the local FSA office (farm service agency) and see what services he might apply for. Based on his acreage and number of livestock he may be entitled to some benefits, maybe insurance, you never know. He would be Cook county. I’m kidding but hey, you have to play the part. He already has the cowboy boots so Duck Wrangler would be the title.

      • Diane G
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Is there a duckling subsidy, I wonder?

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

      to me, the concept of farming involves some sort of harvest. In these circumstances I would not like to be called a duck farmer.

  7. Linda Calhoun
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t irises poisonous?


    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      What’s poisonous depends on who you are, and I think almost all plants are poisonous to some creatures. Asparagus is apparently deadly to horses, for example. Also parts of a plant vary in their toxicity, and petals seem to often have less of the weird secondary compounds than leaves.

  8. Liz
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    The babies look so soft. I wonder if they’d let you pick them up.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      I can’t get close to them, though I did pick up two when they were trapped in the central “ring” when the water level was too low for them to jump out. I waded out there and gently lifted them out into the main pond, where they rejoined their siblings and honey. They were light as a feather, and plenty scared, so I didn’t hold them longer than it took to scoop them out. They were soft. When they got bigger last year, I could pet them a little, but that’s when they were much older, and they didn’t like it much.

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        This made me happy

  9. Alan Conwell
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’m loving these updates on the fledglings; but even better (since we’re contemporaries), I like the Three Dog Night reference. (What, Momma told me not to come…)

  10. George
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    The ducklings will feed on the dragonflies in the pond. There is video of this. One of Jerry’s colleagues, Michael LaBarbera, gave a talk back in 2009 where he shows video of this. He was studying the dragonflies and shooting high speed video. Which is incredible when slowed down.

    The talk is great. The video is not that good – does not always show what LaBarbera has up on the screen. He said one year, there were no ducklings. Another, there were two separate broods. One was abandoned by its mother and the three survivors fledged themselves. You can see his talk here:

    On his homepage, he has 45 seconds of a duckling eating a dragonfly. It is slowed down high speed video. He was shooting high speed video of the dragonflies. Scroll down to the bottom of the page – not updated in a while. It says to use Quicktime which was discontinued a while ago. Other video players (like VLC) play it.

    • George
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      I meant a duckling trying to eat a dragonfly – he/she missed.

    • Diane G
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much for the links! I didn’t expect to but found myself watching the whole thing. The Q & A were great!

      • George
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:56 am | Permalink

        LaBarbera is a very good speaker. I really enjoyed his presentation. I just wish the camera operator did a better job of showing his slides and videos.

        You do start thinking about those ducklings as killers and not cute little puff balls. With all due deference to Honey, the mother in 2009 was phenomenal – 12 of 13 ducklings survived. Maybe Honey was one of her progeny. Lifespan of a mallard duck is 5-10 years so a possibility.

        This talk was given on Alumni Weekend – which is always the first weekend in June. He mentioned that the most current pics were taken on the 31st – which I take to be May 31. So about this time of year. Alumni Weekend was this weekend. I was on campus but could not make it over to the pond.

        • Diane G
          Posted June 4, 2018 at 1:32 am | Permalink

          “…ducklings as killers…”

          Nature, red in bill and wing. 😉

          The similarity of time of year was no doubt one reason it felt as if he could easily be delivering this talk this very week. If I’d known Alumni Weekends offered talks like this, I might have actually made it to one. (Different schools for me.)

          Oh, so frustrating about the no-show slides! Loved the info about the building of the pond and the various fixes that occurred subsequently, also his strong-arming of the Buildings & Grounds (or whatever they’re called at U of C) staff. And the aerodynamics of dragon flies. And…

  11. nicky
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Your ducklings have hit an evolutionary jackpot, an emeritus professor looking after them! However, I’m not sure if this advantage will be sustainable in the longer term. It might be, if you can (I’m sure you can) infect future generation with comparable love.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    C’mon right along.

  13. eric collier
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s you blog, but enough with the dicks!

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Ladies and gentlemen, here we have a prime example of someone who is presumably normal in real life (I can’t vouch for that), but becomes an insufferable boor online.

      Goodbye, Mr. Collier. Your post is not only rude and a roolz violation in several ways, but has two misspellings in eight words, an illiteracy index of 25%. I really have no idea why people like you turn into jackasses on the Internet, but I have no need for the likes of you here.

  14. Posted June 4, 2018 at 5:04 am | Permalink

    Awesome photos.
    I just saw a video on duck penises and their often violent mating habits. Weird yet fascinating stuff.

    Here’s the link if anyone is interested.

  15. Posted June 4, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Jerry may qualify as a duck farmer, but these photos look like they were taken by a proud father.

    I just watched “The True Facts About the Duck” and remembered that the clip of hen Wood Duck defending her ducklings at :55 was one they asked me for to make that video. I was a bit surprised to see the finished product – it was not at all what I had envisioned. Coincidentally, I inadvertently videoed about 3/4″ of the barbed end of a Black-bellied Whistling Duck penis the other day as he casually gazed out into the pond and pulsed his wings, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the “barn door was open”…

  16. Posted June 4, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    As the Official Duck Caretaker of UC, hope that you are keeping an album to look back on, in your later years.

  17. Posted June 4, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Birds can look so stern sometimes.

  18. Posted June 4, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Hooray, Honey

  19. Andrea Kenner
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    What a happy little family!

  20. Posted June 10, 2018 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Excellent shots today!

%d bloggers like this: