Last duckling captured and rehabbed

In this morning’s post I recounted finding a lone day-old duckling with the new hen (I removed six babies from her last night), a duckling who magically appeared overnight. After watching it all morning, and seeing the mother repeatedly attacked not just by Honey, but also by her offspring and one of the drakes, I realized that this duckling and its mom would never have any peace in Botany Pond, and the baby would likely die.

I therefore made the hard decision that it had to be caught and put with the other six I captured last night, which are, by the way, doing terrific and are going to a rehab facility today. With the assistance of kind helpers Karen and Richard, and a big net from the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, I waded back into the pond channel to catch the baby.

Once again it was a bit tricky. Mom flew away instantly, but the baby engaged in that amazing dive-and-swim-underwater behavior, going under and appearing a few seconds later about 15 feet away from where it went under. This is clearly an evolved antipredator behavior; it cannot be learned as this baby was in the water for the first time. You have to see it to believe it! One time it was in front of me and surfaced behind me as I was trying to force it into a cul de sac. But I got the baby on the third swipe, and we immediately took it from the net and dried it with soft paper towels. It was quickly driven to the CBCM’s place where it rejoined its six brothers and sisters.

It was hard to make the decision to deprive a mother of her last duckling, but their lives would have been hell in Botany Pond, and now the mother will live and the baby and its siblings have a good shot at life. I don’t know why Honey has turned into a killer duck this year—perhaps it was the combination of the fight with Dorothy and the attempted dumping of three domestic mallards into the pond. Whatever it is, she can’t be trusted to be peaceful around another hen’s brood. Yet last year she got along with two other broods, when we had 28 ducklings. Who knew?

So be it. Grow fast and well, little ones, and I wish you a long life and a good flight south.



  1. Posted June 4, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    If only they could stay ducklings. Once they grow up, ducks ain’t so nice.

    • EdwardM
      Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Same with humans.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 4, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Just ask the late, great Mister Prine:

  2. Posted June 4, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on saving all the babies. As an old human Mom of three, I find it sad that the mother duck couldn’t be captured along with her babies, but I’m sure her survival mechanisms forced her to fly away to produce more progeny later.

  3. jezgrove
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Let’s just hope that the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors have a less savage approach to bills than your ER room (and Honey)!

  4. Posted June 4, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Jerry I’m touched by your empathy for ducklings and impressed by your academic evolution articles and responses to theists. Please accept an invitation for video interview. I’ve done Lawrence Krauss…

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Mark R.
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    That’s a relief…maybe tonight you’ll finally get a good night’s rest- you deserve it!

  6. rickflick
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Great save!

  7. rickflick
    Posted June 4, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Are the events recorded? Perhaps on the live cam.

    • Posted June 4, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I think so. But I’d have to ask for them to save it now.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 4, 2020 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        It would be interesting to see how it all went down. 😎

  8. Posted June 4, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    “It isn’t easy being green”. Honey is jealous of Jerry’s attentions being diverted elsewhere. She must be feeing more stressed than previous years, and has become extremely territorial. Too many babies to protect and care for. She is now officially a curmudgeon.

  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted June 6, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    You are a mensch. Thank you for saving the ducklings. As we say in the CCL (Crazy Cat Lady) vernacular: Sending healing purrs to the sad mama duck.)

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