Sunday: Duck report

August 25, 2019 • 3:30 pm

I’m trying to catch up on the duck reports, and am getting closer. Katie’s brood is almost completely gone (there’s one offspring left, but it could be Anna’s), but Katie is still here, as is Anna. It’s curious that both moms are hanging around after their brood has departed, as these moms have fully molted and can fly quite well. Maybe they have a sentimental attachment to a place where all their young were treated well.

Daphne, on the other hand, is in the middle of regrowing her feathers, as her offspring have just started flying (in fact, several appear to have left the pond for good; I counted just six this afternoon). Here’s a short video from August 15, when all nine of them were still here:

Here’s the lovely and graceful Anna, who gave us 8 fledged ducklings. She’s instantly recognizable by her long neck and grayish bill:

Look how much she can twist it when she’s grooming!

Anna in the green water:

And here’s Katie, the first mom (sometimes I think it’s really Honey, but I doubt it):


A huge and handsome drake showed up about ten days ago. His head isn’t fully green, so he may be in eclipse plumage, but it’s clearly a male. Because he’s spiffy looking, I’ve named him Ritz Quacker. He is BIG!

Katie, who has an eye for a good mate (remember Gregory, her ex?), has taken up with Ritz. He’s much larger than she is, but they’re always swimming about together:

They like to share a duck island. See how big he is?

Duck poop, just so you know what it looks like:

Daphne’s brood of nine is the most sociable brood of ducks I’ve seen: they are always together, even now when they’re starting to fledge. In the next two photos they’re gathering for lunch:

In the heat of the day, they all lie down together under the trees:

And they rest together on the duck island, where they closely resemble the wooden “knees” of the cypress:

And we mustn’t forget the turtles. They often sport a coat of algae (like this one), which the ducks like to eat by nibbling on the shell. I think the relationship is a mutualism as algae must weigh down a turtle, but the turtles don’t like being grazed by ducks:


23 thoughts on “Sunday: Duck report

  1. Passing strange that three moms with three broods this year seem to have caused less sturm und drang at Botany Pond than Honey did all on her lonesome last year.

      1. Sure. What other duck has a mottled bill like that? And the mottling looks like it could easily be a variated pattern of that on Honey’s bill. Which I suppose could happen naturally with age.

        Mottled beak not too unlike Honey’s plus nesting at Botany pond with a large number of ducklings is might suspicious.

        We’ll never know for sure, but it seems more likely than not to me.

            1. Wrt the basic pattern of the dark splotches, I’d say it’s due to genes. It also seems to me that this particular hen’s bill darkened over the summer, and that’s possibly due in part to the great nutrition she’s been getting.

      2. Careful, boss, you might be being set up for the Jimmy Stewart role in Vertigo, with Katie and Honey in the dual roles played by Kim Novak.

  2. The water in late summer is full of algae and looks soup green like most ponds do. But, I wonder if such small bodies of water are prone to cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, and toxic blooms that are sometimes seen on sizeable lakes. I’m helping with a monitoring program on our local Lake Lowell which is beginning to show evidence of undesirable blooms in late August and September. In any case, the blooms can be quite dangerous to animals and humans and should be avoided. Just wondering our loud, as I would not want any ducks injured in the making of these films. 😎

  3. Of all the duck posts this is near the top of the bill! [sorry]

    The photography & photo editing of ducks is clearly a niche art that can be improved with practise & requires gaining a ‘duck eye’ & I think PCC[E] is so equipped now.

    A narrative duck book is called for – radio tag a few female mallards & follow them for one year, including the southern end of their year. Choose the most interesting one & hey presto. There is a lot to be discovered about the mallard world.

    1. Such a book is long overdue. The movie adaptation could star the voices of Meryl Streep (as the ever fertile Daphne), Tom Hanks(as Gregory Peck), Morgan Freeman (as the Old Mallard who can no longer fly, but gives sagacious advice and serves as the moral anchor), George Clooney( James, the lonesome drake), Jack Nicholson (as the aggressive drake who’s after Meryl Streep).

      1. Great suggestion

        Danny DeVito is up for the “outraged green-slimed turtle” role & his wife could play his wife!

        You’d have to have PCC[E] portrayed as a mysterious ‘force of nature’ duck cargo cult, out-of-focus changing pattern [the shirts] cloud that clicks & clacks [camera] & ‘bombs’ the water & grass beach with edibles. A young Ms. Maria Mallard Curie duck with Polish/French accent would try to show to the cult ducks that The Cloud is natural.

        Writes itself really.

  4. This was an exceptional duck post. You saved up for a goodun.

    As turtles grow, they shed their scales, along with the algae. I think it only happens once a year, so their “hair” can grown quite long in the mean-time. I doubt it’s detrimental, but who knows?

  5. Well, I have an answer to the question I posed above. Yes, toxic algae blooms can occur in city ponds as reported here:

    Algae That Can Kill Dogs Is Discovered in 3 N.Y.C. Parks

    The problem is likely increasing due to climate change.

    Botany pond is surrounded by botanists so there is a good chance there is some monitoring going on. For those with concerns, harmless algae is a solid green color while toxic algae looks blue-green. Microscopic analysis is used to determine exact species.

    “The blooms usually occur in the summer but there are no quick or easy remedies for the control of blue-green algae once they appear in a lake or pond. … “The cyanotoxins present in blue-green algae can also kill ducks, birds and wild mammals such as water voles.” Dogs are especially susceptible.

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