Monday: Duck report

As of 1:30 p.m. today, Honey still hasn’t appeared at the pond. It may be that she’s laid her allotment of eggs and is now incubating them. When I peeked at about noon, she was indeed sitting on her nest:

If she doesn’t show up for lunch in a couple of hours, I’ll know she’s doing serious incubation, which means it’s 28 days until ducklings. Dorothy is still coming to the pond for meals, so she isn’t through laying yet. (I can’t see her nest, and apparently the window on which she’s nested is inaccessible from the inside.) I’ll have to estimate when the ducklings will jump, and ask Facilities to build them a soft landing spot about 4 days before that.

It’s hard for Honey because her nest is on the ledge of the window circled below, 2.5 stories above a cement “porch”. You can see I’ve blocked the window so she won’t be disturbed when people pass by (the window is in the main stairwell).

I’ve put this up to keep Honey from being disturbed.

As I said, her nest is above a cement porch. This is where the ducklings will land when they jump, so you can see why I’m worried. But we shall overcome: Facilities and I are working on a soft-landing design—perhaps a tarp full of deep, soft mulch:

The ducks on their nests. First Dorothy, looking a bit like an ostrich:

Then Honey:

The nest with five eggs (three days ago). It’s a long way down! If Honey laid an egg today, and is also starting to incubate, she’ll hatch a brood of eight—smaller than last year’s.

Meanwhile, back at the pond, Honey had lunch yesterday along with Dorothy and Wingman. The latter two appear at the end of the clip:

Honey and her beau on April 2:

. . . and the Queen herself, having a bit of a rest and a scratch:

Wingman and an interloper drake. Note the curly tail feathers, a male ornament that, I think, attracts females, who don’t have them.

Honey and Dorothy feeding. Can you tell which is which? You should by now:

Honey on April 3, having a quick bath and a thorough preen after that day’s lunch:

Finally, our new duck sign again, photographed by me. Thanks to Facilities for making this and putting it up. You can see that Spring is coming to the pond: the daffodils are up and green is speckling the ground:

11 Comments

  1. Mark R.
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the report, can’t wait for the little yellow fluffs! It’s really nice out here in western Washington as well.

  2. Sian Evans
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you.
    Your posts are great – better than any webcam

  3. JezGrove
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Looking forward to good news from Botany Pond in these somewhat bleak times.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    But we shall overcome …

    That’s the spirit, boss!

  5. Filippo
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    “Facilities and I are working on a soft-landing design—perhaps a tarp full of deep, soft mulch . . . .”

    If circumstances and space allow, you might consider a tarp, hung such that the edge at the wall is sufficiently higher than the opposing edge (at or reasonably, safely near ground level), so that, like a playground slide, the ducklings will have a gradual, smooth slide to the other side, cushioned with mulch.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted April 6, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Ducklings are (almost literally) as light as a feather. As long as the landing is soft they won’t be hurt. I would worry about friction burns from a slide, or that they would tumble and it might be scarier than a jump.

      It would be a lot less worrying for all of us if she just nested in a better place!

  6. sted24
    Posted April 6, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Here is what may be the most celebrated duck in the Univerity of Chicago’s history and yet people are not lining up to offer a hand?

  7. Posted April 6, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I still can’t figure why Honey would change her nesting spot away from the Botany Pond side of the building. Perhaps too many drakes?

    • Posted April 6, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      No, I think there aren’t as many windowsills this year that have a “scaffold” of Virginia creeper vines that hold the eggs on the sill and serve as a base on which to build a nest. In fact, besides the one that Dorothy occupies, I see no suitable ledges on the pond side.

      This is a twofold problem: getting the ducklings to jump safely, and then getting them to the pond. The first we’re working on, and the second, well, Honey is a good and experienced mom. Fingers crossed.

      • dabertini
        Posted April 6, 2020 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Does this mean you are going to get a great view of the hatching?

  8. Reggie Cormack
    Posted April 7, 2020 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    You are undoubtedly a top bloke, Prof Coyne (E).


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