UPDATE: Feeding everyone at the pond this morning, we could count only six ducklings with Dorothy. We found no stragglers, heard no peeping of lost babies, and could find no bodies. It’s pretty clear that one has vanished, and I suspect predation (perhaps raccoons or Cooper’s hawks). I am heartbroken.
It’s been a while since I weighed in with a duck report, so here it is. All is pretty well on Botany Pond: Honey’s 17 babies are all still there, and, on 4X/day feedings, have grown HUGE. Moreover, they’ve started flying: not huge flights, but short hops in the pond and from the bank to the pond. Their primary feathers are large and they’ll soon be flapping higher up, though when they’ll fly away for good is anybody’s guess.
Dorothy still has her seven babies, which jumped from the third-floor ledge 8 days ago. They’re eating ravenously, though I have to say that Dorothy isn’t nearly as good a mom as Honey, and doesn’t keep her brood together very well. (I spend a lot of time herding errant ducklings back to the brood, which is very stressful.) Fortunately, Honey and her Flotilla are leaving Dorothy and her brood pretty much alone, so I am cautiously optimistic.
I thought I’d show the equipment and supplies I use to keep the ducks going. The three green trash containers are full of duck food, the tan bag is what I use to bring food to the pond, there is a bag and three boxes of mealworms, as well as masks to wear to the pond, and there are four spare “duck signs” about herons, pond rules, etc. The two boxes at the far left have equipment for rescuing and sequestering orphan or removed ducklings, though I haven’t had to do that for a while. As you see, it takes a village! I spend a lot more on duck food than on Coyne food!
Honey, alone and with her brood:
Overlooking her 17 ducklings, only half of which have her genes. Honey is at left keeping watch.
Sometimes she sleeps, but not often during the day:
Here are five short videos from Jean Greenberg of the brood in action. Diving practice on June 13:
Before they flew, the ducks engaged in vigorous wing-flapping as they walked—all practice for flying.
Watch to the end to see the Big Flap:
And at last—FLIGHT, after a bit more than six weeks. Not an impressive flight, to be sure, but they’re still airborne for a short time.
And some short flights in the pond.
Honey’s gang isn’t eating as much of my vet-grade food as before; I think they’re into dabbling for pond food big time, and that’s good:
We mustn’t forget the turtles. Many of the big ones leave the pond to walk away, and, not knowing how they’ll survive, I put them back. Perhaps they’re trying to breed, and maybe I should let them be. Do any readers know about this?
I haven’t forgotten about Dorothy’s new family, but that’s a separate post. Here are three teasers (they’ve learned to use the duck ramp to come ashore).