Monday: Duck report (with nest sighting)

Heaps of drakes are still invading Botany Pond, with Gregory Peck, who’s still waiting for Honey, trying his best to drive them off. But it’s futile. Even at feeding time, when I try to feed Greg but not the others (I don’t want a bunch of drakes in the pond at Duckling Time), he eats but a little and then spends the rest of the time driving the others away while neglecting his repast. It’s a distressing time for us all.

When he’s not chasing the other drakes, Gregory waits patiently for his inamorata, sitting on the duck island, watching, sleeping, and preening. Here he sleeps (you can see his nictitating membrane):


Resting on the bank with the other ducks (the acrimony comes when I give them extra food):

Here’s some acrimony: I’ve tossed corn to Gregory but the other two drakes go for it. Eventually he starts trying to chase off the two interlopers (he’s in the middle here):

The turtles appeared soon after the warmish weather began, and there are lots of them. Like last year, they love to bask on the duckling ramp, which was almost never used as a duckling ramp:

And the big news is that I’ve located a nest, though I think it’s not Honey’s nest but one made by the other hen who showed up for a brief feed three days ago. After she flew off from the pond, I watched her and saw her land on the third floor of the building next to the pond, settling in a pile of leaves and twigs. That was surely a nest.

Here’s where it is: third floor, fourth window from the right. Can you spot the hen on the nest? I didn’t think you could!

Can you spot her now? Look carefully:

Here she is, clearly on a nest! I think it’s the hen I saw a week ago rather than Honey, but I’m not sure. Assuming that this is a nest, the ducklings, right after hatching, will be called to the pond by the mother, jumping off the windowsill onto the soft vegetation three floors below and then scuttling into the pond.

It was warm yesterday: about 75° F (24° C), and the hen appeared to be panting, opening and closing her bill rapidly. This upset me, but maybe it’s normal. She is, after all, located on a warm and sunny cement windowsill, and she’s covered with feathers. I do hope she’s okay. Here’s a pant:

Stay tuned: something new happens every day at Botany Pond.


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I heard the other day that turtles of some type bite the feet off of swan babies. Not sure if that matters here, but something to know about with ducklings and turtles in the same pond.

    • Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I don’t think that red sliders would do this, and I’ve never seen a turtle nip a duck or duckling in the pond.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        That’s my thought too.

        my wild guess is that the turtles my friend was telling me about in this unsubstantiated claim about a pond in the wild at a similar latitude were snapping turtles.

        in any case, it is something I had never thought of – hidden danger below the ostensibly happy swimming babies.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        also I never knew they were called “red-eared sliders”, or equivalently, terrapins… or that they have a trinomial :

        Trachemys scripta elegans

  2. rickflick
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know mallards would nest so high. Wood ducks, yes.

    • Bill Morrison
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I thought the same about mallards. The mallard nests that I have seen were usually hidden close to a stream or pond. But they are also known to nest under bushes on college campuses far from water.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 23, 2019 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        There are any number of Youtube films showing mamas leading their babies across obstacles, like 4 lane highways, getting to where you’d think they should have been in the first place. Taking to the trees and roof tops is not common.

  3. Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    That looks like a long drop for a duckling.

    • Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Au contraire.

      This seems like an excellent opportunity to mention On Being the Right Size by JBS Haldane. You may have heard this quote before.

      You can drop a mouse down a thousand yard mineshaft and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man is broken and a horse splashes.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Wow – I just discovered that essay in a book I recommended on the latest such post! There’s another one by Haldane in there, I forgot what it is…

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted April 22, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          I found it:

          Mathematics of Natural Selection

          Which is from “The Causes of Evolution”

          On Being the Right Size is from “Possible Worlds”, both 1928, Harper & Brothers

          The collection I found them on is “The World Of Mathematics”, James R. Newman, 1956.

      • Posted April 22, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Interesting. Thanks. I guess I can rest easier now.

      • rickflick
        Posted April 23, 2019 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

        I hope Haldane didn’t test his hypothesis.

  4. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    called to the pond by the mother, jumping off the windowsill onto the soft vegetation three floors below and then scuttling into the pond.

    Do the “Friends of Botany Pond” (a) exist, and (b) have the technical wherewithal for a DuckCam?

    Unrelated, since about the Permo-Trias, how are the Sqrlz this year?

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