The weather has cooled down (right now it’s a comfortable 70°F (21°C) in Chicago, and the ducks are happy and healthy. Now they’re up to four feedings a day—but only if, after the third, they still act hungry. When I walked by the pond on my way to the library this morning, they were all dabbling, including Honey, so I’m sure they’re getting food between meals. Whether a pond this small can support nine birds, however, is another question. That’s one reason why I supplement the pickings from the pond with good healthy duck food.
These photos are from yesterday, and the scene below is what I see when I go out early in the morning and emit one short whistle. Like a V-shaped formation of geese, the family heads rapidly for me, this time Honey in the lead this time (she’s usually in the rear to keep an eye on the brood). One duckling was a little slow to the gate, and I made sure he/she wasn’t weak or anything.
I can’t tell whether they’re male or female, and maybe won’t be able to even before they fledge (last year I suspected there were three drakes and a hen). This, and the inability to tell them apart, keeps me from giving them names.
Later on in the day (it was overcast) they were foraging on the grass, and I stood back and tossed them corn. They all ate but, as usual, Honey eschewed a normal ration to watch over her brood. She’s such a good mom!
The ducklings are almost palpably bigger from day to day, and they’re turning brown (and growing big-duck feathers). They have cute little feathered tails now.
After the third meal (they’re like hobbits, eating all the time), they had their inevitable postprandial bath with mom looking on. I’m not sure why feedings incite this behavior, although they may get small duck pellets on them when I toss them food.
My girl: Honey. Mallards, I’m told, can live 2-13 years in the wild, with a mean of 4 years. I’m hoping Honey was young when she showed up last year, so that I’ll have some more good years with her and her kids—if she returns.
When the sun came out, all the turtles took advantage of it, stretching out their limbs and necks to absorb as much sun as possible (remember, they’re poikilotherms—”cold blooded” animals—and can regulate their body temperature only by where they go).