Thursday: Duck report

I’m catching up with duck reports, and have at least three to go. As summer wanes, and the Duck Days dwindle down to a precious few, I have bittersweet feelings. I’m proud that my two co-duck-farmers and I raised 29 out of 30 ducklings, and from three separate broods. Further, they’re all healthy and will fly away to Duck World. The flying away is the bittersweet part, as I never know where they go, and know I’ll never see any of them again, at least not that I’ll recognize (Honey’s the exception). And will this be the last time I see Honey? I still regret that I didn’t know that “Katie” was really Honey until about a week ago.

But Daphe has at least two weeks to go before her flight feathers grow in, so I’ll have at least one duck to tend until then.

So, here are some photos and two videos of recent doings at Botany Pond.

First, from three days ago, we have a Bad Case of Zoomies in Daphne’s brood. They were already flying then, but I never saw them really take off. But the “zoomies,” in which they go underwater, do short hops, race across the pond, and flap their wings in place, surely constitute a form of practice for flying.

Here are several minutes of zoomie fun, with all the attendant frenzy. Although I didn’t think I saw any flight when I was filming, you can see here that a couple of ducks actually take off a bit. But they were already able to fly quite well by then; my Secret Duck Farmer saw that—but I still haven’t:

Big zoomies:

And spontaneous solo zoomies from one of Daphe’s brood:

Honey with her chosen mate: Ritz Quacker. He’s a large and resplendent drake, and very protective of Honey, but his head is not fully green. I’m not sure if he’s a hybrid, molting, or just a green-deprived duck. He’s also HUGE (look at the size disparity): the biggest drake I’ve seen yet. Honey knows how to pick ’em!

I always love pictures of ducks with open bills; it’s hard to take them and they look cute—as if they’re smiling—when they do it:

Honey looking up:

Two photos of Ritz:

Turtles. Most are covered with algae, which the ducks like to nibble on (but the turtles don’t like being the nibblees):

This one has leaves, too: all the detritus of the pond. In a few months they’ll burrow in the mud and spend the winter hibernating:

Three takes on the pond surface. Leaves and last year’s gingko berries:

Caution: molting!

And reflections:



  1. pablo
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    “And now Duck News, with your host Hugh McQuacken.”

    I’m interested to see who gets this reference.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 29, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      A weird, psychedelic, jazz-funk-rock band called The Insect Trust employed session guitarist Hugh McCracken on their second album in 1970 – mainly rhythm guitar I think. The last track [#12] is a driving jam called Ducks. I don’t know if McCracken is on that particular track, but I hope so!

      HERE IT IS:

      • rickflick
        Posted August 30, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        The slide show explains a lot about this track’s appeal.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 30, 2019 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

          Yes, an album filler that jam.

  2. WDB
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I suspect that Ritz Quacker is indeed a hybrid though what sort I have no idea

  3. Liz
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The picture with the feathers is beautiful. Soft, wispy calm contrasted with the crunchy leaf.

  4. JezGrove
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Is it not possible to ring or otherwise tag Honey and co to keep track of them when they leave and identify them when they (hopefully) return?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 29, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Could be done, but Jerry would need to contact someone permitted to band birds in Illinois. The Inland Bird Banding Association is based in Chicago & has been going since 1922 – they might be the people to ask. I’d worry about stressing Honey though – maybe she’d not return – she’d maybe rebuff her beau Ritz! The ripples of interfering spreading ever outward.

      US Fish & Wildlife Service are another option as is the boss org which I think is the USGS for strange historical reasons I’ve forgotten.

      • Posted August 29, 2019 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I don’t want to upset her and, further, banding is not nearly as good as affixing a GPS tag, which would definitely tell me where she goes. A tag is only informative if another birder reports on the location, which is rare.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted August 29, 2019 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

          It would help you identify the birds that return, though.

          • Posted August 30, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

            Oh yeah, but then I’d have to catch every duckling, and ring the different broods with differently colored tags. That would be impossible, even if I had the permission and the proficiency. I guess I will have to regard it as a Duck Mystery.

  5. Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Jerry…”The flying away is the bittersweet part”

    The trees are in their autumn beauty,
    The woodland paths are dry,
    Under the October twilight the water
    Mirrors a still sky;
    Upon the brimming water among the stones
    Are nine-and-fifty swans.

    The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
    Since I first made my count;
    I saw, before I had well finished,
    All suddenly mount
    And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
    Upon their clamorous wings.

    I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
    And now my heart is sore.
    All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
    The first time on this shore,
    The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
    Trod with a lighter tread.

    Unwearied still, lover by lover,
    They paddle in the cold
    Companionable streams or climb the air;
    Their hearts have not grown old;
    Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
    Attend upon them still.

    But now they drift on the still water,
    Mysterious, beautiful;
    Among what rushes will they build,
    By what lake’s edge or pool
    Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
    To find they have flown away?


    • Posted August 29, 2019 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Sigh… this is exquisite poetry. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Posted August 30, 2019 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      That’s a lovely poem, thanks. I thought I knew my Yeats, but I didn’t know that one.

      Yeats must have had a swan fixation since he also wrote the famous “Leda and the Swan.”

  6. Glenda Palmer
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Ritz Quacker, what a big fella he is. Honey can pick’em. His colours are not quite right (molting?) as you said, but also his neck seems quite thick even for a large drake. I agree with the hybrid theory at this point. Hope they stay at Botany Pond together till end of September so we find out more.

  7. Posted August 29, 2019 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Ritz is an escaped domestic mallard. They are much larger.

  8. Posted August 29, 2019 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    So will the University of Chicago add Flight School to its curriculum?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 29, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      By Niginie on DeviantArt


      • Posted August 29, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        LOL… that sure gave me a lift on an otherwise burdensome day. Ta.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 29, 2019 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          “Even the featherless seed-thrower apes need lift”
          Mallard tribal wisdom [Trad.]

  9. ladyatheist
    Posted August 29, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how the turtles & the koi feel about the zoomies.

  10. rickflick
    Posted August 30, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this post and all the comments.

  11. Posted August 30, 2019 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    The turtles are so amazing! The ducks are awesome too, but I just have a weakness for turtles! Lol

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