One more egg for Honey

The routine is set: every morning, before it’s light, Wingman’s in the pond, waiting for his hens to descend. (I should call him Brigham because he has two wives.) Later on, when the sun is up (about 7:30), Dorothy flies down, and I may or may not give the pair food. I try to wait until Honey appears so I can feed everyone at once. She appears only about 11:30. I then feed everyone, and they get a second meal at about 3 pm. They are HUNGRY, though Wingman, as usual, doesn’t eat much. I’ve never seen hens eat so much, but of course they’re making eggs and need protein and calcium.

I don’t know why Honey waits so long to appear, unless she’s taking a longer time laying and arranging her nest. She is, after all, the perfect duck mom.

Today Honey laid her seventh egg, keeping up the pace of one per day. (I inspect the nest only when she’s in the pond so I don’t disturb her.) Below is a photo; it’s hard to focus through the screen, and you’ll have to take my word that there’s a pastel green egg where every arrow is. That’s because I stood up on my tiptoes to see and couldn’t photograph them, but be assured that there are seven eggs.

Honey has also started lining the nest with her breast feathers to make it soft to sit on and to keep the eggs warm. But warming won’t start until she sits tight after all her eggs are laid.

How many more eggs—and days—to come before she starts incubating the clutch? Probably about five. At that point it will be D – 28, where D stands for both “days” and “ducklings.”

Perhaps the eggs are arrayed around the edge of the nest so when she sits she doesn’t start incubating them. When she starts “sitting”, she’ll roll them under her body..

I can’t yet see Dorothy’s nest, so I’m not even sure she’s laid any eggs. But she’s sitting on something up there, and I’ll try to get into the room housing her window to see.

Wingman:

Honey having a postprandial preen:

 

16 Comments

  1. Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    It is amazing that a duck can turn mealworms into an egg in the space of 24 hours.

  2. Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Very nice photos…

    …And for a change of pace, some innocent gentleman being attacked repeatedly by a swan–

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know why Honey waits so long to appear, unless she’s taking a longer time laying and arranging her nest.

    Gals who like to sleep late tend to be more fun (has been my experience anyway). And our Honey has never wanted for male attention.

    • Posted April 5, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Could it be that she doesn’t know Jerry’s there at the pond, since she’s on the other side of the building? I wonder if she’d come down earlier, should Jerry whistle beneath her window ledge.

      • Posted April 5, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I already do that. When I whistle at the pond, I also walk over and whistle under her window.

        • Posted April 7, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          I should have known you’d do that, Jerry. Honey chose the more sheltered spot, it looks to me… maybe less windy? I’ll be anxiously awaiting the great leap forward and downward.

  4. rickflick
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    An engrossing ménage à trois.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      That may be a pleonasm, Rick. 🙂

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 5, 2020 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        By way of explanation, let me paraphrase Count Tolstoy: All ménage à trois are engrossing; each insipid couple is insipid in its own way. 🙂

        • rickflick
          Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          Fertility-wise-speaking it’s certainly a tautology. Tolstoy wasn’t a romantic was he.

  5. Peter
    Posted April 5, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    How is Honey going to get the ducklings down to the pond? The can’t fly, right?

    • Posted April 5, 2020 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      They will jump, as they always have. And I will ensure that something will be placed under the window that will give them a soft landing. Mallards usually nest on the ground so this is novel behavior for an urban-nesting mallard, and I worry about a hard landing. But Facilities have promised to work with me on getting a soft landing for both broods.

      Here’s how wood ducks do it, but they nest over water or over soft leaves:

  6. chrism
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    There’s a proper name for that pastel green colour of the egg shells. You’d never guess it, but it’s “duck egg green”! There are those incomplete achromatropsics who can’t tell it apart from duck egg blue, and those who believe they are two distinct colours – typified by people who obsess over painting their Airfix kits exactly right. The joys of my misspent childhood.

    • chrism
      Posted April 6, 2020 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      And then there are the ducks, who make their eggs whatever colour their genes dictate. Bloody inconsiderate of them.

  7. madjack
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your reports on duckwifery. I’m so glad Honey came back. So is it true, as I understand, that the embryos don’t begin to grow until the hen sits to warm them, enabling the hatch of all eggs to occur at approximately the same time, despite their having been laid over a period of a couple of weeks? You said earlier that Honey and Dorothy’s laying was synchronized. Similarly, when a group of girls or women live together, as in a dormitory, their menstrual cycles tend toward synchrony. Your website and its variety of content are a daily pleasure.

    • Posted April 6, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the embryos need warmth to begin development, and when she sits hard on the eggs that all start developing at the same time. I am not sure if Dorothy is laying eggs or how many, but she appears to have a nest.

      Clutches are about 8-12 eggs, so at one per day laying take a week or a week in a half.

      Thanks for the kind words!


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