For several hours this afternoon, when it was warm, our Secret Duck Farmer (SDF) integrated one orphan duckling with the hens on the pond. Sadly, one of our two ducklings in ICU died last night, but the other was vigorous and thriving. It had been in its box for two days, with food and water, at the SDF’s home.
We waited and waited and waited for just the right time—for one of the mothers to sit or swim close to the shore with her brood. The plan was to put the orphan on the shore and let it naturally rejoin whichever mother’s brood came by. While SDF sat patiently with the orphan in her hands, getting warmed, I kept people off the sidewalk (some were ticked off because they thought they had a right to walk by, but I explained to them why they needed to let things happen peacefully). None of us were very optimistic, because the moms are skittish and we needed them to get very close to the SDF to pull this off.
Several times we came close and didn’t try, but then, all of a sudden, Honey swam by with a smallish brood (for her; most of today she’s had all the ducklings), and SDF gently placed the baby on the shore. It looked a bit dumbfounded, but then peeped a bit and the other ducklings turned around and joined it, and then Honey herself turned around and rejoined everybody, and shortly thereafter they all swam off—one big happy family. It’s all below. Duckling was put down 14 seconds in, and joins with Honey’s brood at 1:01. (You can see me in a red sweatshirt behind the SDF, keeping people away from the site.)
A life was saved!
We watched them for a long time thereafter trying to see if any duckling was slow, waterlogged, or bad at swimming. But they all looked healthy and we lost track of the orphan. Soon, both mothers were on the islands with their babies, most of them having survived temperatures at the freezing point last night.
We now have 18 ducklings, a good crop so far. But I saw another hen this morning, so perhaps we’ll have three broods. I’m a happy man even though, as the doctor told me last night, “Your ear was really messed up.”
The video isn’t of great quality because it’s taken from an enlarged section of the PondCam video, but I’ve asked for them to save the last 12 hours worth so we can have a better take.
h/t: Team Duck, the Secret Duck Farmer, and Nicole Reggia for the video taken from the On Botany Pond website.