Sunday: Duck report

I’m tendering another duck report in lieu of readers’ wildlife photos, but be sure to send yours in—the tank is lowering.

As of yesterday evening, Honey and James Pond (who has a license to bill) were still cozied up at Botany Pond, eating and swimming together. I observed a bit of sniping yesterday, as James lunged a bit at Honey when they were both dabbling for corn. But they almost always dine together peacefully.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of when Honey left Botany Pond for the winter in 2017, but ducks really aren’t supposed to migrate south until the first freeze or snow, so they may stay around a bit longer this year. (I suspect they go to a staging area before flying in V formation—if they do migrate rather than staying around here.)  I just went downstairs to give breakfast to Honey and James, and there were no ducks in the pond. Now both of them tend to leave and then come back after a day, so this may be a temporary hiatus, but it would be interesting if Honey left the pond for good on September 1 two years in a row.

I continue to be impressed with the beauty of James. Here are a few shots of him. I suspect he’s a hybrid with a domestic duck given his gynormous size, his white coloration (see the flecks on his neck and indistinct white collar), and his gentle demeanor.

Look at those lovely colors: an iridescent green head, a blue-purple speculum, a lovely yellow bill, and bright orange feet. And I love the subtle brown hues on his feathers:

You lookin’ at me?

Look how neatly his feathers are arrayed. Here is left wing is folded over his right. A goldfish lurks below. . .


Here’s my video of James grooming himself after lunch yesterday. He’s particularly adept at shaking his tail, an act I find ineffably cute.  Honey grooms on a nearby island; note that small flecks (down?) come out of her breast as she’s grooming it.

Honey and James are still foraging peacefully together interrupted only by competition from turtles and goldfish (yesterday James got quite startled when a turtle surfaced right under his belly). Do note the size difference; James is much larger even though he’s further away from the camera:

Lunchtime yesterday: the duckling pellet course. I still don’t know what those small yellowish-brown fish are; one reader suggested Gambusia (mosquitofish).  Here we see honey’s left wing crossed over her right—the reverse of the past few days. Clearly ducks can fold their wings both ways.

Honey grooming and flapping her wings:


My ducks are very clean!


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I observed a bit of sniping yesterday, as James lunged a bit at Honey when they were both dabbling for corn.

    The course of true love never did run smooth.

  2. Laurance
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I can certainly understand why you love ducks so much. They’re so wonderful and so beautiful! (And I love them, too, but I haven’t tried to build a relationship with one or more of the ducks in our nearby park. I have too much disorderly stuff going on in my life to give the attention and care that you do. And there are so many people in the park feeding them – usually with the wrong food – and interacting with them.)

    I do love to hear about Honey and her boyfriends and children.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    He’s particularly adept at shaking his tail, an act I find ineffably cute.

    The great motor city botanist Mitch Ryder felt the same:

  4. Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Would the domestic duck that James is hybridised from have been bred for those striking colours?

  5. Marta
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    wow, James really is a beautiful duck.

  6. Cicely berglund
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Are the small brown fish not young goldfish.?
    I have goldfish in my pond and each spring there are flocks(?)of small brown fish which mature into the nice orange/gold colour.
    Wrong time of year?

    • Posted September 2, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      They could be young goldfish; I simply have no idea. In other news, Honey and James have returned to the pond, though they weren’t very hungry.

    • Posted September 2, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Missed your post before I commented at #10. I agree.

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Honey may well be attracted to James’ impressive size and coloration. James may well be attracted to a woman who reliably arranges for a good spread, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Is there any way to estimate age with ducks?

    • Posted September 2, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been wondering if James Pond is older than Francis Drake. It’ll be interesting to see if James shows up next year with Honey’s next brood, and if he’s kinder to the ducklings than Francis was!

  8. caroline burton
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Both absolutely beautiful! You are so lucky to have them – but how do you manage to drag
    yourself away and get some work done?!

  9. Posted September 2, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    So sweet! Thank You so Much! Much appreciated to be ale to enjoy someone’s personal Nature Habitat! 🙂

  10. Posted September 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    What a great post! Thanks, PCC(E)!

    From the video, the little black fishes, particularly the ones with the goldfish underbellies, look like young goldfish. Most of them will turn completely orange as they mature. They may orange up faster depending on their diet too. Koi pellets often contain krill and such, to hasten the brightening of the fish scales.

  11. Heather Hastie
    Posted September 2, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    A great duck post! So many pics to enjoy AND videos. I’ll be sad to see them go, and I’ll miss these updates.

  12. Posted October 14, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    James is so beautiful, and Honey showed surprising shapes.

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