Monday: Duck report

Although I have a few batches of wildlife photos left (and I remind you to please send me your good ones), it’s time for a duck report from Botany Pond.

Most of the ducks have fledged now and left the pond for good; we take pride that of the 28 hatched, 27 survived (one died as a young adult, probably from flying into a building). And all the mothers are fine.  A few ducks continue to visit the pond sporadically, so that, at a given time, we have between zero and seven mallards. They are generally absent in the morning and appear about lunchtime.

Several drakes have also shown up, hoping to snag a mate with whom they can bond and, next spring, breed.  Here’s the premier drake, Ritz Quacker. He is a very large drake—the largest I’ve seen in the pond.

As you can see below, his head was not fully green last week, but I think he was molting, as now he’s resplendent. (Either that, or a new, greened-up drake has appeared).

Here’s a video of Ritz from September 20. Note that at 13 seconds in, he swims backwards a bit. He’s good at that:

Of course Honey has taken Ritz over, bewitching him with her ducky charms. Here they are swimming and eating together.

Here’s a cute but unknown mallard, who may have been an itinerant migrant, having a huge bout of the flappies and zoomies. (She submerges at 1:26.) I think ducks do this to exercise their wings in preparation for fall migration:

A new drake—is so pale that I suspect he’s a hybrid with a domestic duck—showed up about ten days ago. (He could be molting, but his color hasn’t changed.)

At first Ritz chased the new drake around, but then the situation reversed itself and yesterday Pale Drake and Ritz had a huge fracas in the middle of the pond. The pale drake won, reminding me of the set-to between James Pond and Billzebub last year, in which Billy won and absconded with Honey. (But of course, in a romantic denouement, she returned a week later and took up with James again). Honey is now paddling around with Pale Drake.

Here’s Honey with the interloper. She’s a fickle one! She’s been gone for two days now, but both drakes await her return.

Finally, we’ve all been concerned by “Wounded Warrior,” a duck who couldn’t swim very well, and preferred to eat on the shore than in the pond. I’m happy to report that, as of two days ago, ample and selective feeding have improved her swimming ability dramatically, so that now she’s almost indistinguishable from the other hens. Here she is when still afflicted, swimming on September 15. They’re eating mealworms, but you can see how much faster her legs move compared to Ritz and Honey, eating nearby. This “frantic” behavior has now abated, but it took several weeks. Perhaps she was injured.

 

9 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The pale drake won …

    Goes to show, to put a new spin on an old chiasmus, that it’s not the size of the drake in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the drake.

    Honey seems to have a thing for flings with bad boys, but, as the Dan song says, like a gangster on the run, she will stagger homeward to her precious one.

  2. rickflick
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Who knew things could get so complicated within the confines of a small pond?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted September 23, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      True, and one could also say the same thing about a drop of water on a slide under a microscope.

  3. Glenda Palmer
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I have enjoyed the duck reports so much. Thank you. Getting close to the time they all leave the pond and move to the departure staging area isn’t it.

  4. Posted September 23, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Love the duck reports, ducks are such cool birds. Look at the way they hoover up the food!

  5. Bruce Lyon
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    In one of the photos Ritz Quacker (great name!) looks way bigger than Honey. Does the photo accurately show the size difference or does the perspective make him look bigger than he is? If he really is this big I would wonder if he has some domestic duck genes in him; the birds in my area that clearly have some domestic ancestors are often really big. And by the way, maybe Honey likes this male because who doesn’t like honey on their Ritz quackers?

  6. Posted September 23, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I am glad to hear that wounded warrior is okay. I was worried about her.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted September 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the report.

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted September 24, 2019 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Noting the plain bills on the males shown here, do only females have patterned bills?


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