Saturday: Duck report

I’ll start with a photo from yesterday morning when the ducks were huddled on the bank in the rain. I think it’s one of the best “brood” photos I have, mainly because of the duckling at upper left of the Duck Pile sticking its bill out (click to enlarge):

It’s stopped raining here (we had quite a deluge the other day), and although it’s a bit overcast, it’s warmed up and the duck islands are above water—though still muddy. Tomorrow and Monday will be sunny and warm, so everybody should be happy.

Here’s the pond in the early morning with the family swimming about. But they’re still resting on the bank, which is more dangerous than on the duck islands, and I wish they’d move back to them. I suspect they’re waiting for the mud to dry out.

I gave them extra food today because of the cold and rain, and they’re eating ravenously. Look at these ducklings: they’re getting so big that they’re sometimes hard to tell from Mom! There’s some dabbling going on here, too.

After breakfast they again had mandatory dabbling practice. Notice that their feathers are almost grown in.

Just to remind you how fast they’ve grown, this photo is from exactly a month ago. It’ll be at least another month till they can fly.

Before the mid-morning feeding, they were huddled on the bank again, though it’s no longer cold. As usual, Honey was watching over the gang, and standing between the Pile O’ Ducklings and the entry to the area—the place where a predator might come from. She clearly knows how to position herself to protect the four copies of her genome embodied in the ducklings:

Pile O’ Ducklings (yes, there are eight in there):

I was a bit worried because Honey was standing on one leg while watching them, and I thought she might be injured, though ducks do stand that way to warm up their feet. But then I looked at yesterday’s photo, in which she was also standing on one leg, and it was the other leg. Plus she seems to be walking fine.

Notice how well she balances:

My avian inamorata, Ms. Honey, Mother of the Year:

 

13 Comments

  1. Diki
    Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I was reading about cuckoo ducks, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and the hatchling just jumps right out the nest and buggers right off. Totally independent and no parental care at all from the moment of hatching. Thing is I’d expect the cuckoo duck to have less reproductive success with this behaviour than its non parasitic cousins and yet they survive though the population probably isn’t as ubiquitous. Not that I want to diminish Honey’s maternal efforts but why can’t the kids look after themselves from an earlier age, they look kind of robust.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Looks can be deceiving. Human 14-yr-olds also look robust.

  2. mikeyc
    Posted June 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Is the one legged stance due to rete mirabile?

  3. Liz
    Posted June 23, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Last week I saw two male ducks while hiking and took some pictures. They were both standing on one leg on and off. I had no idea why but they were.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      It is because if they lift up both feet they’ll fall on their ass.

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

        Oh, okay. That makes the most sense.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 23, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    All looking gorgeous as usual. I wonder what Frank and Hank are up to these days?

    I had a thought. I wonder if Hank is one of Honey’s from last year? It would explain Frank not only not seeing him as a threat but seemingly being mates, but Honey chasing him away. He would be jealous of the new brood, and Honey wants to make sure they get the food. Hank might be the adult son in the basement.

    I know I’m anthropomorphising. I don’t know if Honey would even be aware of a familial relationship if it existed. I’m just having fun with the pond dynamics.

    • Posted June 23, 2018 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Frank doesn’t see Hank as a threat; they’re good pals normally. It’s Honey who sees him as a threat. I think Frank is the father of the brood, but I’m not even sure of that.

      I haven’t seen either male in about four days.

  5. Roger
    Posted June 23, 2018 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    In the land of the blind, the one-legged duck is king. Because nobody knows it’s only on one leg because they can’t see it.

  6. Mike
    Posted June 24, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Methinks there is an obsession growing that is greater than the feline one, Hili will be jealous.

  7. Posted June 24, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that Botany Pond will be an oasis for ducklings in the years to come, and would like to suggest that a gently arched footbridge be installed, spanning a couple of the ‘islands’. The ducks will be able to get added respite from the wet and the threat of predators; other critters like the toitles would likewise benefit.

    It’s very windy in our area, and whenever the ducks flee the little pond and alight on the roof of our shed, they tend to warm up each leg in turn on cold days. Just like flamingos.

  8. Posted June 24, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    There’s a good chance that this well-nourished brood might fledge in as little as 20 days! Where has the time flown to?!

  9. Posted June 28, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Kids love duck so much. Except from water, where else can you find them.


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