Duck tale

The morning was stressful, with marauding drakes attacking Dorothy and driving her off the nest repeatedly. That left the brood alone, peeping piteously. They even attacked her on the island with her brood, making her fly off, and they did an aerial chase with her trying to get back to the pond without being attacked. I was impotent to do anything to help.

The malefactor drakes finally left about noon, and Dorothy and her brood of ten (they all survived) finally got fed and enjoyed a swim and a preen in the sun.  Wingman and his buddy are also in the pond, but he didn’t let the buddy get close to Dorothy (he’s very protective). So, for the time being, she and her brood are ok, spending the night on the duck island.

Honey flew to the pond late in the afternoon, which was odd given that she’s ready to jump, and I took that opportunity to peer at her nest. It was full of ducklings ready to go. But when I got down to the trampoline, one of her ducklings was on the ground. It did not jump because I peered at the nest, because a friend was watching below the nest, and found the duckling before I pulled the window screen to look at Honey’s babies.

I took the duckling and put it on the ground and backed off. It peeped piteously, and Honey quacked and looked at it. I hoped that that would induce her to drop with the rest of the brood, but no dice—she’s back on the nest, probably for the evening. (A friend is watching for a few hours so they can lead her to the pond should she jump. But that’s unlikely as they usually jump in the morning.)

So I put the duckling in a box that I’d prepared (I thought something like this might happen), and now have it at home, next to a warm radiator and with a small lid of water and duckling food.

Tomorrow Honey’s brood will surely jump en masse, and I hope to be there to lead them to the pond or at least walk with them. I will also have the issue of reuniting this duckling with its brothers and sisters. That should not be much of a problem since she knows her mother’s call.

I have pictures, and they’re adorable (also many pictures and videos of Dorothy’s brood), but right now I just wanted to fill people in. In short, we have all ten of Dorothy’s brood on the pond, safe for the moment and well fed. Honey’s should, Ceiling Cat willing, be on the pond tomorrow morning if she can lead her babies to the water. Then, if I can reunite this duckling with its brothers and sisters, all will be well—for the time being.

It’s been a day full of anxiety, and I’m drained. Tomorrow at this time we’ll know if everybody is well and good in the pond.

Here’s an iPhone photo of my charge this evening:

35 Comments

  1. Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Very exciting! Maybe hatchlings don’t need to eat for a time, as they would still have yolk in their stomach.

  2. Dominic
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    All very tense!

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes! I was on pins and needles reading it! But, OMG, that duckling is cute.

      Good work there on Botany Pond Jerry. No surprise you are exhausted! I’m exhausted just reading about it all. Holy Moly, what a ride!

  3. Teresa Carson
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    What a cutie! It’s good think you’re there to watch over them. I hope Honey’s brood makes the long trek tomorrow.It looks like the plan to cushion the duckings’ exit from the nest has worked so far. Congratulations!

  4. Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Too many duck tourists at the pond!

    What a stressful saga indeed, even for us faithful onlookers. Surely you could name your rescued duckling Jerry or Gerry, PCC(E)?

  5. David Fuqua
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    You are doing a great job for these moms and babies. Looking forward to pix.

  6. JezGrove
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Of course, in cartoons the duckling would have imprinted you and think you’re its mother…

  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    An exhausting day for one and all and all two-legged creatures. Good for Wingman! I watched him take off after another drake earlier today and drive him away. Soon he’ll have two moms and broods to defend.

    Has the little one eaten yet or is it as Mark Sturtevant postulates?

    • eric
      Posted May 6, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, I was going to ask if wingman defended the hens. Good for him. Though with four drakes, I’m guessing his ability to successfully keep the drakes away will be somewhat limited.

  8. Divy
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    That little duckling is so lucky to have you there, Jerry. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen to it if you weren’t so caring and dedicated.
    I’m hoping and rooting for a great outcome for all.

  9. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    What a gorgeous duckling! He/she is very lucky to have you as it’s protector. Good luck today!

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Maybe you can put a boombox on the other side of the window from Honey’s nest and encourage her new ducklings with some Van Halen. 🙂

  11. George
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    There is a lot of photography going on with some fancy equipment. Saw someone with a lens that was at least 300mm. Nick Feamster, another UofC prof, posted a great picture on his twiter page that was retweeted by @onbotanypond. Any way we can ask the photograaphers to send pictures in?

    There is not all that much duck tourism going on. If the campus was not closed, there would be a lot of traffic through the area. Hutchinson Commons and Reynolds Club are right next door. Most places would call them the student union. Hutch is basically a duplicate of the hall at Christ Church at Oxford – which was made famous in the Harry Potter movies. Potter fans like to check out the place. The ducks get used to a lot of people around. The current situation is unusual.

    • George
      Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Current situation – Wingman on patrol. I think Dorothy and her brood are on the right island. Cannot really make it out but that is where everyone is looking and pointing their cameras.

  12. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Another day in Duck land.

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Hooray! Great news – and a gripping tale.

  14. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you are a good person! Sending lots of calming kitty purrs your way!!

  15. Frank Bath
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Well done. Thank you. I’m rooting for the good health of every duckling and your good self.

  16. dabertini
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    ACM’s job is never done! Hero to all but especially ducks!

  17. Posted May 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Love it. Good news in the time of COVID. Keep up the good work. It’s made my day,

  18. amyt
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    My bandwidth is terrible at my home. Although I can see general goings on. I was wondering if Dr Coyne would be willing to wear a bright color (red or other) so that watchers could tell when he was at the pond. I watched for a while today and think I knew which one was Jerry. Lots of pacing just like an expectant parent. I had to stop watching as I was a nervous wreck!

    • Robie
      Posted May 6, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      He was bringing the duck food in a yellow bag, so that’s a clue for the time being.

  19. Roo
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Aw, look at your fuzzy little (temporary) roommate! Adorable!

  20. Posted May 6, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Bathtub and then bed?

  21. Posted May 6, 2020 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne: You’re a mensch.

  22. Steve Gerrard
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    On the webcam I saw some of the behavior of the malefactor drakes yesterday. It was very scary, I thought they might try to kill ducklings or physically damage Dorothy or Wingman. Very high anxiety just watching it a few minutes. I imagine it would be much worse to monitor it an entire day.

    I glad to hear all turned out well so far, and the next batch will walk the walk tomorrow. It will get nice and busy in the pond!

    • Posted May 7, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Wish we could’ve seen the duck walk to the pond. And the family action on the channel.

  23. Posted May 7, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Almost 3 pm EST. Jerry is still out on the pond, talking with people and supervising the ducks. I can see one hen on an island with turtle guardians. I assume the chicks are there too.
    A long day! He deserves a stiff aperitif and digestif tonite!

  24. Crazy Humorous
    Posted May 9, 2020 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this lovely story. What a cute duckling. Now you just need to get a chicken (Friends joke).


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