The hatching of ducklings should commence on May 3 or 4, and these may be the last photos and videos of the adults you see before they are babysitting. Both Dorothy and Honey are sitting tight on their nests, with both coming to the pond every three to four days for between 30 minutes and an hour to eat, preen, and bathe. (The eggs can be left for a short while.) Now that we have the DuckCam, I can easily see if there’s a hen in the pond, whereupon I run down and feed her. Incubating eggs is hard work!
I believe there’s another hen in the area as well, as a new female flew into the pond three days ago, lay flat on the water in a copulatory pose, and immediately mated with Wingman. She then preened and began flying to various window ledges on Erman Hall, where Dorothy is nesting, quacking loudly all the time. Two days ago I saw her on a ledge on the Anatomy Building, also quacking hard. I suspect she’s a late arrival and beginning to nest. So, we may once again have three broods of ducklings on Botany Pond! You’ll be able to watch them on the “On Botany Pond” DuckCam.
In the meantime, enjoy these photos and videos of the last days of the ducks as non-parents.
Here’s Honey having a quick feed.
Wingman and Dorothy:
Wingman and Dorothy, with the drake napping a bit and Dorothy preening:
All three were in the pond together while the hens were nesting; the ladies took a break together. This is the first time I’ve seen the hens leave their nests at the same time. I fed them all, and here they are grooming postprandially:
Look at my speculua!
All clean! In some light the speculum appears violet (as above), while in others it’s a royal blue (below):
And a video of the preening bout above:
Finally, Honey preening. Ducks are immaculate animals and keep themselves clean and well oiled.
This morning (Thursday), I spotted a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in the pond on the pondcam. I ran downstairs to photograph it, and got one shot in low light (ergo out of focus) before it flew off. These herons are easily spooked, but they eat ducklings, so I’m glad they don’t stay around: