When I went to the pond this morning, as I said, I saw no female duck nor any ducklings. My heart was heavy. But of course I stopped by again to feed Frank (and his drake pal Henry) on my way to the store to buy corn for the fowl and food for myself. This time, I heard some peeps from the bank. There, huddled on the shore, was mom (I’m still not sure if she’s Honey) with NINE—count them, NINE—very young ducklings. I immediately ran upstairs, thawed some corn and filled a beaker with mealworms, and went back to the pond, trying to feed everyone but keeping the drakes and family apart. (Frank is aggressive and drives mom away from the food.) I managed to feed Frank and Henry on the shore, while giving mom corn on the bank and the whole family mealworms in the water. It was no picnic, believe me. At times I had to shoo Frank away from the others.
I’m not sure where the other seven ducklings came from; perhaps they hatched last night or were just hidden while I rescued two wayward siblings from the duck island (aka “the duck trap”) yesterday.
It’s going to be a long summer, but, I hope, a fulfilling one. Now if I can just get Physical Plant to pitch in and do what they promised to do (they failed to put in a ramp last night, but swear that they’ll fill in the duck island today). If they don’t, I’ll go into the pond again. I guess this is my family for the summer!
Some photos. Yes, there are nine wee ones. Here they’re eating mealworms. Mom, as expected, was ravenous.
Ducklings foraging amidst the lily pads:
Mom from half an hour ago.
New mom: beak markings enlarged:
The real Honey; photos from last year:
I’d like to think this is Honey, as the stippled beak marks bear a resemblance to the real Honey, though the dark triangle at the base of the left side of her bill doesn’t match. But stippling like this is unusual in hen mallards, and, as experts have said, the pigmentation changes over time. What do you think?
Regardless, she and her brood are my responsibility now.
UPDATE: Physical Plant, despite its promises, won’t help out this weekend. So I’m going to the store with Anna and am going to buy bricks to fill up the duck island. That involves multiple trips through cold water. Good thing I brought some swimming trunks today!