Duck report: Tuesday

Professor Ceiling Cat here: I’ll be back in action tomorrow after a refreshing and well-deserved break. In the meantime, the ducklings (and I have trouble using that word) are so big that I can barely tell them apart from Honey. Her tail is whiter and head lighter, but I can mainly spot her by her position: behind the ducks standing guard. In the meantime, she’s observing them using their new dabbling skills. Here’s a video by Anna called “the Super Dabbler”. Note that at one point Anna tosses duckling pellets to them.

And a few photos. First, feeding time yesterday, when they ran off the grass and jumped into the water, swimming across the pond to me to be fed:

Honey standing guard at postprandial bathtime. How can you not love a duck mom who is this attentive?

When I feed ducklings corn in the water, I try to throw it on lily pads so they can get it before it sinks. Here’s four of them foraging for corn. Note that although their heads are greenish, that does not mean these will become males. The sexes can’t be easily told apart before they fledge.

A full view of a “duckling”. I think their wings are so large that they’ll soon be able to fly. But perhaps ornithologists can tell me if their primary flight feathers are sufficiently large.

And a honking big turtle barely managing to support itself on a lily pad, where they love to get sun.



  1. DrBrydon
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    That is one content-looking turtle. Kinda jealous.

  2. George
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    A couple of pics from the uchicagocollege instagram account of Honey and her brood. Click the arrow on the right side of the first pic to see the second one.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      These are great close-ups, and I love Honey’s expression in the second photo. Proud mother, good mother.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Lovely, though I don’t think the front duck in the second picture is Honey. And they MIGHT have mentioned that two professors have a very keen interest in tending the ducks!

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, indeed. You and your aides have put in tons of work and expense in keeping the brood in such fine fettle!

  3. Diana Hook
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    All along the backwater,
    Through the rushes tall,
    Ducks are a-dabbling,
    Up tails all!

    Ducks’ tails, drakes’ tails,
    Yellow feet a-quiver,
    Yellow bills all out of sight
    Busy in the river!

    Slushy green undergrowth
    Where the roach swim–
    Here we keep our larder,
    Cool and full and dim.

    Everyone for what he likes!
    WE like to be
    Heads down, tails up,
    Dabbling free!

    High in the blue above
    Swifts whirl and call–
    WE are down a-dabbling
    Up tails all!

    –Kenneth Grahame (from The Wind in the Willows)

  4. Charlie
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Do young ducks have relatively consistently colored bills, whereas older ones develop more splotchy bills?

  5. Hempenstein
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Any thought of getting them banded?

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      I could ask, but then they’d be disturbed and might flee. I know Honey by her beak marks, and I think I’ll leave it at that.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Thought about that & understand. Still, it could be cool to know if any of the kids come back next year. The banding people might have some input on how disturbing it is, especially if you’re there afterward with corn & mealworms.

  6. Peter
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    dabble, shake tail; dabble, shake tail; dabble, shake tail (repeat). Even though the tail never gets wet.

  7. Merilee
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:07 pm | Permalink


  8. Merilee
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:08 pm | Permalink


  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    The video is so cute! I could see turtles swimming around with the ducks.

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