Friday: Duck report

June 21, 2019 • 11:15 am

All is well at Botany Pond, with all eighteen ducklings thriving. We have a duck report today, including videos and photos, from our Anonymous Duck Farmer, whose words are indented below (mine are flush left):

Everyone seemed happy today at the pond.  Katie and her brood have been foraging in the plants near the stone bench often lately.  After eating they got out of the water on that side and let me take some pictures of their growing feathers.  I had hoped to capture them flapping their wings, but no such luck.  You can see that they are very close in size to Katie and their wing feathers have started to cross at the bottom—not as much as mom’s, but they are growing fast.

I predict that they’ll fly before I return to Chicago! Their wings are getting larger:

Note the blue speculum on one “baby” below. That doesn’t tell whether it’s male or female. There are only two ways to sex a duck of this age: look at the genitals (which I can’t do and wouldn’t if I could) or listen to their noises. If they make a distinctive quack, it’s a a female (only female mallards make a loud “quack’). Some real duck farmers recommend squeezing the young ones to make them utter a sound, but I won’t do that. But I have heard some genuine quacking from Katie’s young, so there are definitely females among them. (The chances that they would be all male are 1/2 to the 10th power, or about 0.001.)

I believe that’s Katie to the left, and two “ducklings” to the right:

Anna and her brood were happy as well.  They really love the mealworms and then were on the duck ramp quite a bit today.

This is the first video I’ve posted of ducklings successfully using the ramp; it’s usually blocked by turtles:

Hard to believe Anna’s babies are two weeks old already!  They are definitely bigger.

Two more videos from June 20.  Katie’s brood enjoying the leaves on the tree that hangs over the pond.

I didn’t know ducks eat leaves, and hadn’t seen them doing this before, but, sure enough, they do and you can see it above.

9 thoughts on “Friday: Duck report

  1. Thank you Chicago stringer “Anonymous Duck Farmer.” It’s important work getting the Duck News out to the expectant world-wide readership!

        1. With a small backyard pond, I’ve found there’s not usually a problem having duckweed, and there is significant die-off over winter. But after reading the following article, I am changing my mind about its suitability for Botany Pond, as there could be a problem for the turtles and other pond plants including beneficial algae, were there to be an over-bloom of duckweed. Perhaps this could happen when the ducklings fledge and fly away. Koi love to eat duckweed though.

          The pond experts there on campus should know what’s best, so we’ll just leave well alone.

  2. Do the sexes in ducks (or other birds) reflect the temperature of their eggs as in reptiles? I ask in reference to the odds of the entire brood being male.

    Sometimes I ask these questions and answer them myself via google. Here’s the answer:

    TSD (Temperature-dependent sex determination) is only observed in reptiles and teleost fish (ray finned fish which make up 96% of all extant fish species). Thanks google.

    Good luck Anna on your future endeavors, and thanks for your assiduous duck-care and reports.

  3. Years ago, friends and I lived in DC. There are (used to be?) ducks in some of the pools around the capitol building. We went down there to feed the ducks. One took along lettuce, insisting that ducks love letture. Ducks do not love lettuce. Ducks can look offended, though.

    1. My ducks don’t like lettuce either though I offered them prime and pricey Romaine lettuce. They are SUPPOSED to like lettuce, but I suppose I’ve spoiled them with corn, mealworms, and Mazuri Waterfowl Starter Chow.

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