Thursday: Duck report

April 30, 2020 • 1:45 pm

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:

Dorothy preening: a series.

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:

Wingie preening:

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:

 

20 thoughts on “Thursday: Duck report

  1. Gorgeous and thrilling pic of the heron!

    This record of the Botany Pond experience is invaluable.

      1. Oops, forgot to mention how great the photos are! Nice that you can see how many people are looking at Botany Pond in real time – I imagine that figure is going to shoot up in a few days!

  2. Weirdly, the version of the DuckCam that was embedded in the post in which PCC(E) announced that it had gone live is zoomable so you can see more detail, but the YouTube version isn’t.

    1. It zooms on this iphone…
      There are no buffalo in Buffalo to buffalo Buffalo buffalo, as they are bison!!! and we all know the difference – you can’t wash your hands in a buffalo.

  3. Since we already have the little ducks here I am seeing behavior that is different. Maybe some duck experts can explain, why would one of the drakes go after the female when she already has a bunch of young ones. There may be another male attempting to chase him away but it does little good.

  4. I just discovered that @OnBotanyPond now exists on Twitter. Are you responsible? (they have your blue and green heron pictures, with attribution).

  5. What a wonderful series of photos and videos! My favourite is Dorothy displaying her specula.

    Even though it’s a little out of focus, I love the heron pic too. The colours in the background against the heron are great. If the light had allowed a better pic, it would have been truly spectacular.

  6. Is there some kind of hormonal or other mechanism that causes the eggs to all hatch reasonably simultaneously? I’m thinking of PCC’s comment that the ducks leave the nest within an hour or so and head for their first feeding. How do the eggs coordinate their hatching? Or do they?

    1. PCC explained in an earlier update that while the eggs are laid approximately 1 per day the hen doesn’t start incubating them until she laid all of her eggs so that leads to them hatching at relatively the same time.

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