Duck report: Wednesday (a time of coming and going)

Well, the duck situation is fluid and emotionally destablizing for us Duck Farmers. On Monday, Honey and James were both here, eating well and disporting themselves in the warmth. Here they are two days ago:


Bathing and clambering onto North Duck Island:

Here they are eating corn in a rare appearance ashore. I love to see them on land, as I know they’ll get every kernel I toss them. (Of course the fish and turtles get the wastage when the ducks are fed in the water.)

Anna loves to look for the crawfish who burrow into the mud along the banks, and she found a big one (no crawfish were harmed in the taking of these photos):

Yesterday morning, though, I found the pond empty, and it remained empty all day. They had gone. My only consolation was that they left together, and thus their pair bond seemed secure. But I hoped they’d return, as it’s still warm.

And they did. Here’s what I saw when the sun came up this morning. They were back—and together!

They’re BACK!

I’ve already fed them twice today, but it’s hard as the wind is blowing from the east, driving the mealworms and duck food into the lily pads. Here you can see them responding to my whistle. You can also hear the strong wind. I couldn’t get much duck food to them, but James managed to get some down.

But I did manage to hurl corn onto Duck Island #1, and here’s Honey eating it. James makes a token appearance grooming himself in the tub.

So they’re back for the moment, and today Anna returns from a meeting. I hope they’ll be here for at least a few days so we can enjoy their company before the Great Migration South. Does anybody want to guess when they’ll leave for good?

I suspect their absences involve them checking out the Staging Area (wherever that is), seeing if the other ducks have taken off yet. If not, they come back here for some good food.



  1. Laurance
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Is there a possibility that they won’t leave? Might they end up staying much longer because they know there’s a food supply here? Is there a possibility that they might delay their migration too late and get caught in the cold?

  2. George
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I saw my first flying vee of the season this morning. I was driving past the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve (in Hoffman Estates in suburban Chicago). There were about 30-40 geese – flying NORTH. Not sure where they were going – maybe to join a larger collection of geese. When migration time comes, the sky will be full of flying vees heading south. That is at least a month away – probably more. If the weather holds, it will not be until mid to late November.

    The suburbs are full of good to great bird habitat. There are many forest preserves in Cook and the collar counties.

    A lot of the work on restoring the forest preserves to prairie is done by volunteers. Here is the website of the organization that works on the preserve I drove past this morning.

    There are also detention and retention ponds everywhere to catch rainwater. If this was Houston, houses would have been built in those areas. Instead, we get great wildlife habitat.

    I think the fact that Honey and James keep leaving and returning to Botany Pond is good. They check in with the larger group and they return to the peace and quiet of Botany Pond. I think this will be going on for a month or two. It is way to early to worry about migration.

  3. Warren Johnson
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “Duck farmers”? Farmers grow plants.

    How about “duck ranchers” or “duckboys and duckgirls”, or “duck wranglers”?

    Wait Wait ! I know ! DUCKAROOS !

    • George
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      So dairy farmers are not farmers?

  4. Gnu Atheist
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    That’s a sizeable Mud Bug!

  5. Hempenstein
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    This is my hypothesis, which is mine.

    They fly off to the staging area to bid their compatriots farewell and wish them the best, adding that they ain’t leaving since they’ve found nirvana, but sorry, it’s a really cramped place and there’s no room for anyone else.

    Meanwhile, here outside Pittsburgh, the weather’s been so weird that one of my magnolias (one of the deciduous sort, not a grandiflora, which I also have) started to bloom yesterday, and it isn’t just an errant blossom. The whole tree’s getting ready to bust forth in deep pink.

  6. Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    The crayfish is priceless. Way to go, Anna.

    Are there any fish is the pond?

    • Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I’m assuming the pond freezes over, which is a fatal indicator for fish. A cheap 110v aerator would fix that. It would probably be good the the turtles, as well.

      • George
        Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Actually, the pond does not freeze over completely. There is a continuous flow of water into the pond. One year. someone turned off the water, the pond froze over and the koi died. You can find out more about Botany Pond by watching this lecture by PCC(e)’s colleague, Michael LaBarbera.

  7. Posted September 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    What are those things on duck island that look like a gathering of duck fossils? That is eerie.

  8. Diane G
    Posted September 27, 2018 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Ducks of Our Lives…

  9. Posted September 27, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Lots of dinosaurs still migrating near here, and we’re further north, so …

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