Sunday: Duck report

April 19, 2020 • 1:30 pm

We’re halfway through the incubation period now, and the tentative date for what I call the “Great Leap Forward”—when the newly hatched ducklings leap from their high windowsills—is May 3. But it could be earlier, and we’ll have all preparations done by April 28, or so I hope.

In the meantime, Wingman still stays forlornly in the pond, getting excited only when one of his two wives flies down for a drink and a snack. (If I’m lucky enough to spot them when they come down for their hour’s break, I go down and feed them). The rest of the time, as in the video below, he either sits on the cement ring in the middle of the pond or swims around in a desultory way. Sometimes a few drakes join him in the morning, and they have a boy’s morning, swimming around and exchanging locker-room banter. (Today there were three extra drakes.)

One reader asked to see Wingman in his forlorn state, so here’s a short video of him swimming aimlessly about:

But he’s a handsome lad, and is very protective toward Honey and Dorothy. And how faithfully he waits for them!

His usual post is on the central “duck ring”: Helplessly hoping. . . . wishing he could fly; only to trip at the sound of goodbye:

During incubation, I’ve seen Honey on the pond twice;  each time she stayed a bit shy of an hour. I fed her for about ten minutes of that time, and the other 45 minutes she bathed and preened, as you see in the video below. Note how she gathers oil from the uropygial gland at the base of her tail to waterproof her feathers.

Yesterday something cool happened: she hopped out of the pond, waddled through the bars of the fence at the south side, and then walked east to the southeast corner of the building, as if she was scoping out the route she’d use to lead her ducklings to the pond. (The nest is located in such a way that to get around the building, she’d have to head south, then turn the corner to the west, and head into the pond through the wide bars of the fence.) I swear that she was doing this to check the route, but if that was the case she’s really wired up for maternal care!  Since she didn’t eat or anything, but just walked, looked about, and then walked back to the pond, I have no other explanation.

Anyway: bath and preen:

And a series of Honey’s meticulous preening session:

She doesn’t miss a spot, and there’s some scratching, too:

Don’t forget to wash behind the wings!

Ahhh. . . that’s better!

Wingman watches patiently as she splashes and grooms. He’s always nearby when she’s in the pond:

Often very nearby:

Her first corn of the year (she ate out of my hand yesterday!):

Wings in motion. Look at those speculum feathers! These would be like neon lights to another mallard, particularly when viewed from above:

Finally, a lovely formal portrait of a proud duck—my Honey:

12 thoughts on “Sunday: Duck report

  1. A very steady hand. Using a tripod?
    The speculum from above shot is revealing (or is it speculae, or speculums, or speculi?)

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