Honey makes the uchicago news

April 28, 2020 • 11:30 am

There’s a new article on the uchicago news site by written by Nicole Watkins and giving the story of Botany Pond and Honey. You can read it by clicking on the screenshot. The PondCam and this story were timed to appear together, so the University is counting on the ducks to bring people good cheer. I hope they do!

I love that picture, by the way. I took it the day that Honey’s ducklings jumped from the ledge last year. Eight were in the water right away, but two were reluctant—until she eventually nudged the other two in for their first swim.


Here’s a video I took right after that:

33 thoughts on “Honey makes the uchicago news

  1. Not to sound negative, but I am not really thrilled with PondCam. Basically, it is not doing the impossible, i.e. capturing the beauty and intimacy of Botany Pond. I think it will look better in a couple of weeks when the trees bloom. And then the water vegetation. But that still will not be what Botany Pond means to me.

    Keep in mind that Botany Pond is completely artificial. The water source is the Chicago municipal water supply. That low structure you see in some pictures is the pump house. The pond does not freeze in the water, The water is circulated constantly and fresh water is added daily.

    Yet, it is a place of great peace and beauty. Probably my favorite place on campus. As an undergrad, I lived south of the Midway. So I would pass the pond on my way to the library. OK – I was usually going to Jimmy’s (Woodlawn Tap) not the library. But I would usually stop and just take in the ambiance for a while. Unfortunately, PondCam does not capture that. Oh well, nothing is perfect,

    1. I am sorry that you do not like the cam. It’s the best that we could do in the absence of a nestcam, and it will look much better come summer.

      The water does, however freeze in the winter (I presume that’s what you meant). And the circulating fresh water is good for the ducks, who I think are healthier because of it.

      1. I like the cam. I was just getting overly sentimental and pensive. For most of your readers, they will never experience Botany Pond in person. I am watching the cam right now. I just wanted to emphasize the personal experience of being at Botany Pond which is not captured by the cam.

        By freeze, I should have said turn into a solid block of ice. I think one year the pump failed and the pond turned into a block of ice killing all the fish.

      2. Do they filter/clean the city water before it goes to the pond? I ask because you have to do that with houseplants and other things (although we don’t have to because we all have wells). But whatever they do or don’t do with the water, it seems to be flourishing and beautiful. I enjoyed the article very much, especially about the duckling landing pads.

        1. They do nothing to the water. Just goes in – chlorine and all. Chicago water is very high quality. Still classified as hard by the EPA – at the lowest level in that category, 8 grains per gallon. It is treated in an enormous plant just to the north of Navy Pier. Water is all from Lake Michigan – intake cribs are a couple of miles off shore.

  2. This is terrific, Jerry. It’s nice article (I love the first pic), and the “On Botany Pond” website is one I will have up and running regularly.

  3. I’m glad to read that all the Heroes Of Botany Pond are getting credit in this article! And that IS a gorgeous place – I never saw such a pic before.

    Sorry I couldn’t help use the Heroes phrase from the CRISPR paper but it’s true.

  4. Cute. That last ducklet bumped into the water pipe, paused a half second as if thinking hard about which way to go. Then it chose to go left. If that’s not free will I’ll eat my hat.

    1. There’s undoubtedly an alternate universe in which it chose to go left, and another one where your hat isn’t edible, so it all balances out. (OK – I admit I don’t understand the free will stuff…)

        1. There’s also possibly an alternate universe in which I have a brain, but that’s getting into highly speculative areas of quantum physics that I won’t live to see realised!

  5. excellent job you and your friends have done on the pond—I have it up on my computer screen all the time….it is something to look forward to with the “viral situation” we are all in right now.

    I did have a strange thought looking at the pond, I thought back to when i was a kid and saw the movie “birdman of alcatraz” with the great Burt Lancaster.
    Burt has his birds, and we have the ducks………
    perhaps the 50,000 fans of this website should think of a catchy name for what Dr. Coyne has done for the blog, the college, the pond, and ducks in general. great idea for the camera.

  6. You are to be congratulated for initiating something that is so interesting and so loving. We hope that people give it a lot of attention and leave the ducks alone.

  7. A couple hours ago when I first watched the On Botany Pond webcam footage (live), I saw what appeared to be a woman enter the image from the top left corner and move to some concrete stepping stones? (large) on the left hand side. From there she flung (at least twice) what I would guess was food of some sort out over the pond. Is she authorized? Is the signage to discourage unauthorized feeding adequate? When she moved around (out of view and then returning to view along the top fenced edge of the pond, she appeared to be reading the signage and she didn’t fling any more food. Looking forward to seeing the ducklings. Thanks.

    1. She shouldn’t have done that, but she might have missed the sign. If you see somebody doing that, email me immediately and if I get it I’ll politely stop it. This goes even more if the behavior is especially egregious, like siccing a dog on the ducks.

  8. What a great article! I’m looking forward to watching the camera when the brood launches.

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