Monday: Duck report

I’m getting ready to travel for a week, and there’s lots of preparation, including educating duck-sitters on how to properly feed the mallards. (Anna is here, of course, but I’m spreading the work around.) While I prepare to leave, allow me to bore you once again with photos and videos of my children and grandchildren taken over the last few days.

First, the good mom, Katie Peck, cocking her head at me. As you’ll see below, she has a lovely blue speculum. She also seems to have a skinny neck and a dent in the back of her head.

And the wickedly handsome Gregory Peck, distinguishable by his greenish bill, the violet cast of his head (more so than other drakes), and his continual low quacking as he swims around, especially at feeding time. Look at that beaut: the Robert Redford of drakes!

The nictitating membrane (‘third eyelid’) covering his eye. Mallards sleep with half of their brain at once, with one eye closed and the other open to look for trouble. They alternate between halves so that the whole brain eventually gets a rest.

Katie likes to bathe with some of the babies after a meal, but they also hang out on the cement rings, which are convenient for sleeping. Note her thin neck and dented head:

I’m sure that the babies learn by watching mom. When she preens, they preen, and when she dives under the water after a meal, doing it repeatedly like a porpoise, they see it and do it as well. (See first video below.)

Here’s some imitative postprandial washing and porpoising on and around the island. Ducks have an oil gland at the base of their tail that they nibble with their bills and then spread the oil over their feathers.

Note the babies porpoising like Katie. (Anna and I are conversing during the video.)  Note too that there are lots of turtles around, but they and the ducks get along fine.

A slightly wet duckling. Note that the spiky feathers of adolescence are starting to appear:



They get fluffier when they dry out a bit. One of these guys is sleeping:

Following Mom:

More mass grooming:

Everybody out of the water!

This is one of my favorite pictures—an action shot with everybody following Mom in preening:

Katie likes to stand on one leg from time to time (she alternates legs, so I’ve learned that she’s not injured). Ducks do this to conserve heat.

The gang on Duck Island #2:

Everyone on the beach!



  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    She also seems to have a skinny neck and a dent in the back of her head.

    Well, as Joe E. Brown said at the end of Some Like It Hot, “Nobody’s perfect.”

  2. Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    The capability for unihemispheric sleep seems very useful. I wish I could do it.

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Is that why Flamingos stand on one leg, too?

  4. Glenda Palmer
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    So endearing. Thanks for the update on the ducks you enjoy so much. Grow up fast don’t they.

  5. Terry Lynne Pedersen
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I love the education you’re giving about

  6. Debbie Coplan
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Very cute ducklings. I love those mini duck bills. The babies really pop out of the water on to land so quickly.
    Thank you for keeping us in the loop on these guys.

  7. Dan Morrison
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Asked on today’s Hili but should have waited for the duck report.. Sorry but I appear to have missed something. What happened to Honey? No mention for some long time.

    • Posted May 20, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      She showed up and then disappeared; I thought she was nearby laying eggs and would appear with her brood, but she hasn’t shown. I hope she found another place to have her ducklings, but I doubt it’s as good as Botany Pond. I miss her.

      • Dan Morrison
        Posted May 20, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        I miss her too. I hope she’s ok where ever she has gone.

      • Posted May 20, 2019 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

        Katie is looking more and more like Honey. The dent in her head perhaps might have been from feathers lost during the ‘man-handling’ during copulation.

  8. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I hope Chicago does not get any of the rough weather we are having in Kansas. Lots of rain, wind and cold. Too much for the small ones.

    Have a question for anyone who knows. I can download photos from the camera fine but not videos. Why is that happening? It is like it cannot find the video.

  9. Posted May 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    They grow very fast!

  10. Posted May 20, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    The “action shot” with everyone imitating Mom is a great shot!!

  11. dabertini
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Wait a second. Gregory peck the duck and he’s also the robert redford of drakes? Some ducks have all the luck.

  12. Darren Garrison
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    There is a manga called Beastars in English that is set more or less in the universe of the movie Zootopia except it pre-dates the movie. (Okay, not exactly, but I don’t need to write an essay.) I recently found a short manga that ran before and was the prototype for Beastars. The last page of that manga made me think of you.

    I’m not sure if that link will show the URL or embed the photo in the comments–sorry if it does the latter.

  13. rickflick
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    “When she preens, they preen, and when she dives under the water after a meal, doing it repeatedly like a porpoise, they see it and do it as well.”

    Mirror neurons comes to mind.

  14. Heather Hastie
    Posted May 20, 2019 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I always love the duck reports, but this is an especially good one. Thanks Jerry!

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