Readers’ wildlife photos and videos: Monday duck report (a drake appears!)

UPDATE: As of a few minutes ago, Honey and her drake are absent. Now they may be gone for good, or may just be exploring or fleeing the sound of construction nearby (they’re working on the sidewalk close to the pond). But this may be it until 2019. I’ll report back at lunchtime.


Well, Phoebe has left for good, but Honey is still around, ravenous and being fed like a queen by Anna and me. The big news (see below) is that a new duck has joined her: a honking big male! Perhaps they’ll bond and mate next year. But first some videos.

Here are Phoebe and Honey bathing and frolicking about ten days ago. First we see Phoebe, and then Honey ducking and bathing. Honey flaps her wings (not fully feathered) at about 43 seconds in and jumps on Duck Island #1, while Phoebe ducks herself and spreads her wings at about 1:16 before joining her mom on the island.

Phoebe (rear) and Honey palling around before the Big Chainsaw Trauma. This photo was taken August 12.

Honey having a good scratch:


The pair posing:

Phoebe having another postprandial bath, ducking herself, flapping her wings at about 19 seconds in, and then shaking her tail (a gesture that always amuses me):

Phoebe and Honey having a dejuner sur l’herbes (see video below):

Two days ago I returned from Connecticut to find Honey alone in the pond. When I called her from the water, she waddled out on land to come to me for corn. Can you spot the duck?

Honey is eating TONS of corn and mealworms—three times a day. She’s feeding up for the Big Flight, I suspect:

I can’t get enough photos of My Best Feathered Girl. Isn’t she cute—and in good shape for having just fledged eight ducklings?

This is the last video taken of Phoebe before she left. Here she and Honey (right) are scarfing up mealworms, while the turtles hang around for scraps:

And the big news: yesterday morning I went to the pond and found a HUGE drake mallard accompanying Honey. He must be 1.5 times her size, and the biggest drake I’ve ever seen in the pond. It’s certainly not Frank, as this one has a brown breast. He’s a gentleman, letting Honey eat her fill and not interfering, and they swim around together. Here they are in the rain:

He’s a behemoth (and looks a bit worse for the wear):

Look at that spiffy yellow bill:

The drake (to be named; see below) is polite, not interfering with Honey’s food and only occasionally dabbling for a grain of corn or sampling a mealworm. Look at all the turtles hanging around and hoping for worms!

Earlier in the day, the pair were on separate islands, with the drake looking as if he were trying to impress Honey. She didn’t look impressed.

In the afternoon, however, they were lying side by side on the north duck island. Romance is in the air! Now I don’t know whether they are pair bonding, or will migrate together, or perhaps even come back together and breed. But, as a large, healthy male who is a perfect gentleman, and always asking for affirmative consent, I deem him a good mate.

Now what shall we call him? Here are some choices, and you can vote for them or suggest alternative names below. (Be aware that they both could be gone any day).

Finally, Anna spotted a crawfish in the pond yesterday. I have no idea how or where they overwintered, but there are several of their burrows now sitting along the pond’s edge:

Honey will soon be gone: her flight feathers are large and I suspect she can fly. Although she’s well fed, the days are getting shorter, and I simultaneously dread and anticipate the day she leaves. It will be sad for Anna and me, but we have the satisfaction of knowing that all eight surviving ducklings took off in good condition, and that Honey has now fledged an even dozen in the last two years.  I do hope she returns next year! Stay tuned for April, 2019.

Time to go to the pond, not knowing what I’ll find.



  1. GBJames
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    I suggest the name “Griz” for this fellow.

  2. GBJames
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Speaking of crayfish. I read yesterday that a lot of these crayfish are invasive and lead to increases in mosquito populations. It seems that the crayfish eat predators of mosquito larvae.

  3. mary kay Lazarus off
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I suggest “Sir Francis”(Drake)

    • Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      We already had a drake with that exact name. He was, I suspect, the father of Honey’s brood.

  4. kieran
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    “Mistake the Drake”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 21, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Good title for the movie adaptation of the comings and goings at Botany Pond.

  5. Blue
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Optimus Maximus or OM for short.

    He is helping to transform Honey’s and
    his environs in to one of c a l m, not ?


  6. busterggi
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Another mate for Honey already? Do you folks have Barry White music piped out over the pond?

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I’ma go with “Otis” on the hope it’s in honor of the Mad Man from Macon, the Big O, Mr. Redding his own self.

    Damn, boss, but for a scientist you’re quite the Romantic. Before all’s said and done, wouldn’t be surprised to catch you scratching out sonnets and odes with quill on parchment.

  8. David Duncan
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Jerry Jr?

  9. nay
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    How about Gentleman Jim (Jim for short).

    • GBJames
      Posted August 21, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      If we’re considering that, then how about Gentleman Jack instead? We can toast him on his return!

      • Christopher
        Posted August 21, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I’ll drink to that!

  10. Mark Ayling
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    How about Bob:
    a) because he does;
    b) Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible). Who is big.

  11. Posted August 21, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Ferdinand, from the character from Babe.

  12. Posted August 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Do ducks do the “protector vs. father” thing – I’ve heard of “threesomes” being a thing in some birds.

  13. Frank Bath
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I suggest ‘Big Mal’ for the mallard drake.

  14. Draken
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Drakey McDrakeface (obligatory suggestion).

  15. Posted August 21, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink


  16. SusanD
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely gorgeous photos of gorgeous ducks!

  17. FB
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 11:27 pm | Permalink


  18. ladyatheist
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Big Bad John, after the song of the same name.

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