I’ll have to be brief, as I’ve been dealing with ducks all day. This morning Dorothy was attacked by the marauding drakes again, but seems to have survived; I heard Wingman helped drive one of them away.
Honey’s brood jumped from the ledge at 6:15 a.m., and I and two friends were there to watch and film it (yes, we do have video showing they jumped). All eight them made it down safely, and we picked three of them out of the trampoline and put them in the bushes where Honey was waiting. As the eight of them marched to the pond without us needing to lead them, I added Cuthbert to the parade, and he followed along. That makes nineteen, and I was glad Cuthbert joined the gang.
As soon as Honey entered the pond, though, she got into a vicious fight with Dorothy that went on for a long time; they bit each other’s necks while the two broods of ducklings agglomerated into one big brood, peeping piteoously.. I separated the mothers with the Super Soaker, and the ducklings, who got splashed in the fight, divided themselves up among the mothers. It wasn’t the right split, for I recall that Honey had five and Dorothy had fourteen! (These numbers may be a bit off.)
Throughout the day the mothers battled, but not as viciously, to get more offspring. Honey’s brood was as low as three and as high as 19, when, at one point, she drove Dorothy out of the pond completely and had all the ducklings to herself. But through clever distraction of Honey with food, I managed to split them more evenly. Now Honey is on the island with seven ducklings, and Dorothy has ten.
Where are the other two? Two got so splashed in the fracas that they got waterlogged and couldn’t swim well, and one couldn’t even walk on land. We put them in a box and they’re in ICU. I thought one was dead but after an hour of holding it by my space heater, massaging it, and rubbing it gently with a Kleenex, it came not just back to life, but became a fluffy, vigorous duckling. Both waterlogged ducklings seem to be reviving under heat and soft cloth, and with luck we should be able to get them to rejoin the hens tomorrow (I want them to go to Honey to even up the brood). My assistant duck farmer, who is calmer than I, will be in charge of the reintegration, which is a delicate process.
I’m sure one of the ducklings in ICU will be fine tomorrow, but I’m worried about the other, which is a bit less vigorous, and if we can’t release it because it’s too lethargic we’ll keep it, feed it, and perhaps give it to a rehab facility.
So it’s been quite a stressful day at the pond, but now both moms are settled on the islands, each with a sizable brood. The marauding drakes have vanished for the time being, and although Dorothy is a bit beat up (she’s missing feathers from the back of her head), both hens are being great mothers. The problem is that each of them wants all the ducklings. There may be more swapping yet to come.
Posting is going to be light for a couple days, and please bear with me if posting is very sparse, as I promise things will get back to normal. I have great photos, videos of Honey’s ducklings jumping, and there may be a piece on the national ABC news this weekend. Stay tuned for photos and videos.
As for me, I need a hamburger.
UPDATE: I found one of the ducklings drowned under the bushes on the east side of the pond; it may have been one of the ducklings that got waterlogged during the hen fight. This is very sad. I thought only eight ducklings jumped from Honey’s nest, and that, including Cuthbert, accounts for our total of 19 (17 on the pond, two in the ICU). We’re going to get a video of the complete jump, so there must have either been nine who jumped or I miscounted Dorothy’s brood at ten when it was eleven. RIP, little guy.