Duckling leaps!

Very sad news: we lost another duckling. We’re down to 17. This little guy was found floating on its side, and I recovered it, rushed it to ICU (my office), and warmed and dried it. I thought its eye opened and I performed CPR, pressing its tiny chest and breathing on its bill, but it was futile. I’m heartbroken. I want the rest of them to survive so badly!

But at least we have some nice videos today.

At last, after several years, we’ve captured videos of Honey’s ducklings leaping from the window, where the nest was, to the ground. We were pretty sure that Honey’s brood would jump on May 7 because there had been ducklings for at least a day. So three of us convened at 6 am on the west side of Erman Hall to see if we could capture the leap.

The youngest member of Team Duck, Meghan Hammond, captured the whole process in this 9-minute video. As you’ll see, the ducklings were reluctant to jump, but one finally did at 4:01, whereupon Honey flew to the ground and called the others. One by one, with trepidation, the eight others made the leap. (One, Cuthbert, had accidentally fallen off the night before, but I took him home and he was reintegrated with the brood as they marched, post-jump, to the pond.)

Meghan retrieved three ducklings who had difficulty getting out of the trampoline, and put them under the bush where Honey was waiting, and, with the whole brood behind her, she marched south and then turned the corner to the west, heading for the water.

Honey needed no guidance, for she knew the way to the pond. As you’ll see in later videos, when she entered the pond with brood, she got into a huge tussle with Dorothy.

You’ll hear our commentary in the background the video, which of course was accidental.

This is my video recorded with my Panasonic Lumix. It’s a closer-up view, but shows only a portion of the ducklings jumping. You can see them peeping and jumping reluctantly, but they couldn’t avoid the blandishments of their mom below. I show six ducklings remaining on the ledge here, with four jumping. As I said, all nine made it down safely.

Here are Dorothy’s babies having their first swim two days earlier, when they jumped from the third-floor ledge of Erman on May 5 at about 9:15 a.m. This was filmed by reader Sara Lackie from the PondCam. The notes are on the YouTube site, but you see Dorothy calling them down, and then ripples as they jump in the pond. At 2:43 you see her in the water with eight babies, but then at 4:12 she goes back to retrieve the other two, and then the whole family of mom plus ten head for the North Duck Island to rest.

At the end, all twenty made it to the pond. We’ve since lost two, but as of today the eighteen remaining ones are healthy, eating well, and growing.

Welcome to the world, little guys! May the Duck Force be with you. I will do all I can to help you.


  1. Dominic
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    What a great duck grandpa you are! 😉
    PCC[E] is now Professor Ceiling Duck [Emeritus]! We need a picture appropriate!

  2. Andrea Kenner
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jerry.

    On the other hand, when I watch the Pond Cam, I can already see that the remaining ducklings have grown!

  3. boudiccadylis
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Seeing how closely the ducklings first stayed with Dorothy and comparing to later dates it’s fun to watch the independence growing in them.

  4. Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    How nice to see that. The duck farmers have done their work well!

  5. Mark R.
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I feel bad for you assiduous duck farmers losing a couple cute ducklings. Hopefully the remaining 18 will all survive and fledge. I would think the worst is probably over. Thanks for the videos.

    • Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Only 17 remain now.

    • George
      Posted May 11, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Before Jerry’s intervention, you usually lost half the ducklings in the first week. And probably some after that. That is why ducks have some many ducklings.

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear about the progress- sad to hear about the little ones that didn’t make it. As they say : better to have been loved than to never have been loved at all.

  7. Posted May 11, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Sad news. But I enjoyed the leap. Funny how they would flap their little flightless wings.

    • George
      Posted May 11, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      We sill start seeing zoomies by the ducklings in a few weeks.

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    The video of them jumping was far too exciting.

  9. Ruthann Richards
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Earlier you (PCC) asked for an accurate duckling count, which you seem to have gotten by now, but am just adding my “two cents.” This morning I saw only 16, but this afternoon I counted 17 two different times, most recently at about 14:45 CST–when a man was putting up a sign on the fence. It’s amazing how many idiots ignore the requests and go behind the fence. This morning a woman actually let her unleashed dog get a drink from the pond, right at the left end of the fence (from the camera footage) where the ducklings often rest/feed.
    I’m sad about the three who haven’t made it, but at least the heron didn’t get any. Keep up the wonderful duck farming!

    • Posted May 11, 2020 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      I saw that dog walker, and then there was another dog on leash that went to get a drink. Sheesh.

  10. phar84
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Those kids were fearless

    • JezGrove
      Posted May 11, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely – jumping three floors and then going for their first swim!

  11. rickflick
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    It amazing that all that nail biting drama is programmed in their tiny brains over millions of years. It’s no wonder they seem to be able to get most of the clutch on toward adulthood.

  12. Susan Davies
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Where is Wingman? Has he left permanently?

    • SDF
      Posted May 11, 2020 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      I find drakes difficult to tell apart, but I believe he’s been there most days along with the marauding drakes who he sometimes tries to keep at bay. This afternoon around 4pm the hens were on the islands with various ducklings and Wingman was at his post nearby and then come to join Dorothy on one of the islands.

    • Posted May 11, 2020 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      No he’s here and has quite taken to Dorothy. He chases the other drakes away, eats with both Dorothy and Honey on the bank, and even climbs on the island with Dorothy and naps with her! That drake is worth his weight in gold.

  13. wonderer
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I just got to see a bunch of ducklings learn how to use the duck ramp.

    So cool.

    And thanks to all who were up at the crack of dawn for duckling jump footage.

  14. rickflick
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Many of the ducklettes were trapped on the grassy knoll, behind the steel wall, for quite some time. Perhaps there should be a few gaps cut into it for them the rejoin the ponders.

    • Posted May 12, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      There’s a gap there (one at each end) that I insisted on putting. If they weren’t so dumb they’d use it. However, I’m confident that eventually they’ll find their siblings and mom. And they did.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 12, 2020 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Yes, they did escape. But, boy are they stupid! 😎

        • Posted May 12, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          Hey, you weren’t too smart at one day old!

          • rickflick
            Posted May 12, 2020 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

            Since you put it that way, I guess I could cut them some slack.

  15. Posted May 12, 2020 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    This morning I saw a heron on the pond! I wasn’t live, just went back an hour or so and there it was – staying patiently in the water, waiting for ducklings, than flying to the other bank. Both mothers led the little ones away and the heron finally went away, or at least I think so. I also think someone called PCC, because shortly after he was by the pond keeping watch.
    Nevertheless the heron was beautiful, great bird. We don’t have blue herons in Europe, only the grey ones.

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