Proprietor’s wildlife: Wednesday Duck-O-Rama!

I’ve been remiss in posting photos of Honey and her 17 babies (yes, there are still 17), but today we’ll have a Duckapalooza of photos and videos to bring you almost up to date.  Between May 21 and the end of May, the ducklings began growing in their adult feathers, starting from the neck and proceeding backwards. You’ll be able to see those later in the post.  First, here are the ducks huddling with mom on the South Duck Island on May 21:

Spot the duckling!

Honey & Co. resting and preening on the south bathtub ring after a nice meal.

Duckling see, duckling do:

The most frequent question I’m asked by visitors to the pond is “What happened to Dorothy?” They are sad, as am I, that Dorothy lost her brood as Honey gradually purloined her ducklings. But Dorothy is still around, and shows up about 2 times every three days. I give her a big meal to try to console her. Sometimes she flies up to the windowsill on the adjacent building and sits there. And sometimes she flies to the precise sill where she nested, which makes me worry that she’s trying to re-nest (I don’t want another duck fracas as a young brood mixes with an older one). But she appears in the pond so often, and for such long periods, that I don’t think she’s sitting on eggs. Here she is on a windowsill:

Closeup of Dorothy:

By May 25, adult feathers had started to replace the downy plumage. You can see them on the necks of the ducklings below:

. . . and a clearer view here. The babies are entering their “punk juvenile” stage:

Here they are on May 31 on the beach, disporting themselves. After a long nap on the shore, some unknown cue prompts them to leave, usually, but not always, with Honey in the lead. I like this video because it shows a lot: leaving the beach one by one, and then flapping their stubby wings, with dabbling and diving in the water. The voices are me and my colleague Jean, who sometimes comes to join the duck-watching fun.

And of course the Queen herself—my beloved Honey. A few shots of her regal duckness:

Formal head shot. By now you should recognize the beak pattern, with the black triangle at the base of the upper bill on the right side, and the “duck chasing motorcycle” pattern in front of that.

 

Stretching a wing:

. . . and guarding her brood on the beach. Note the adult plumage on the young ‘uns:

Video by Jean Greenberg showing a “make way for ducklings” march across the sidewalk on May 24. Notice that they are no longer fluffballs, but miniature adults. I think of them as velociraptors.

A view of the feathers of two wet ducklings who just dabbled:

And the brood huddled together on the beach. They jam in as close as they can, even when it’s not cold.

A video of the brood having a postprandial groom on May 31:

I always neglect the turtles (to Greg’s dismay), but they’re here in plenitude. To get the maximum sun, they often try to climb atop each other. This little guy fails and falls on his back (he was fine):

Another video by Jean showing the brood crossing the sidewalk, but with extensive wing-stub flapping by two of them:

A video by Jean taken the day after a heavy rain. The pond level rose by about two inches, allowing all the ducklings, even the runt I call “Tiny”, to jump awkwardly onto the shore. They all made it!

 

Finally, remember that you can always watch the ducks and ducklings live on the Botany Pond webcam (click below), which operates 24/7:

 

16 Comments

  1. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Is it possible that Dorothy is Honey’s daughter and/or that Honey, being an alpha female gets to raise all the ducklings? As in wolves?

  2. Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I see in the ‘duck march’ that there is a range in sizes among the youngsters.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Yes, remember that there were two broods born two days apart. But there is not an obvious bimodality, save for the “runt” named Tiny to whom I’ve giving extra duck chow and mealworms.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t think she [Dorothy]’s sitting on eggs.

    Might she be in a family way in advance of laying? There have been those randy drakes hanging around the pond, and we all know Wingman is nothing if not fecund.

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      All I can say is “I hope not”, and also that they begin laying soon after insemination, and begin incubating as soon as all the eggs are laid (8-10 days).

  4. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    A testimony to your care that all 17 ducklings have survived this long!

    • Posted June 3, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      I swear on the whiskers of Ceiling Cat that THEY WILL ALL FLEDGE!

      • George
        Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Why does that comment immediately make me think of “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

        • George
          Posted June 3, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          Sorry – wrong link

          • Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:35 am | Permalink

            LOVE WKRP. I watched it as a kid in Australia and wanted to move to Cincinnati. (I moved to NYC instead!)
            thx.

  5. urthmothr
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t following the ducks closely, but that will be changing – we have a Mallard nesting next to our front porch! Maybe I’ll call her Honey?

  6. Posted June 3, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    One of the best photo-based Botany Pond duck updates.

  7. Posted June 3, 2020 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the duckarama. Most wonderful to observe the development of the kids and the loving care of the mother. I haven’t tried to observe them all on the duck cam in awhile because my eyesight is so bad, I very often can’t see them. I’m a wimpy loser.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    This was a great post, thanks for the update. Those ducklings sure grow up fast.

  9. Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    They’ve got so gangly! But beautiful all the same. Thanks for the lovely update, PCC(E).

  10. Andrea Kenner
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    They’re ducks…. almost!


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