It’s been a while since the last duck report, and even today’s isn’t totally up to date. Suffice it to say that Dorothy and her six babies are doing well, and the babies are now “mini-ducks”, having lost all their down and become smaller versions of their mom. Honey was here until yesterday, but now I can’t spot her among the 15 or so itinerant hens and molting drakes that hang around the pond for noms. I hope Honey comes back (her primary feathers weren’t completely grown, though she could fly), for I’m not ready for her to leave yet. Her brood of 17 has long since departed, but many new ducks have arrived, and I can’t be sure if any of them are Honey’s offspring coming home for a visit.
Have some duck photos and movies. First, the awkward teenage phase of one of Dorothy’s, but with the beginnings of their lovely blue speculums. This was taken on July 26:
A really messed-up-looking juvenile duckling a few days earlier: a mixture of baby down and small adult feathers.
Here they are having a postprandial preen and bath (click on all photos to enlarge):
Dorothy and babies on the Sacred Mound: the now-defunct clump of grass that was every duck’s favorite resting place:
Mom and brood on the mound, two with bills open. You can see from Dorothy’s raised wings that she’s molting, as she lacks primary feathers:
The gang’s all here:
After meals, especially in the afternoon, all ducks like to preen, dive, zoom, and splash. Here is Dorothy and her kids having some fun (notice that Dorothy joins in):
Imitating mom in a postprandial grooming session on one of the rings:
Here’s one of Honey’s offspring (remember, half of them were actually Dorothy’s babies whom Honey kidnapped). This was taken July 26 when these lovely young ducks were flying away. Look at that shiny bill and fresh new feathers!
Here’s Dorothy’s brood eating algae off some surface, and I suspect it’s the shell of a turtle:
Morning feeding is at 6:30, with two reliable Duck Farmers who like to feed Dorothy’s young ones. Here’s one of the babies approaching the feeding site: the end of the channel.
The adult ducks having a bout of postprandial zooming, splashing, flapping and diving, which is really a treat to watch. It’s not just the babies who do this; I can’t help but think that the ducks are just having fun, reveling in their duckitude.
When ducks are full, the food sits in their crop to digest, and it looks as if they have a goiter. Sometimes they hang their swollen foreparts over the edge of the pond. I call these “Dali Ducks,” after the painter’s drooping watches. Here are a few photos of Dali Ducks. This is one of Honey’s brood:
Another along the bank. If they’re big enough, they can stretch their necks down to the water and get a convenient drink:
One of Dorothy’s young ‘uns practicing to be a Dali Duck. Look at that swollen crop!
A video of a Dali Duckling (one of Dorothy’s) taken by Jean Greenberg:
Here’s a vigorous bout of carousing by both big and little ducks; video by Jean Greenberg.
Too many ducks on the pond! This morning we had Dorothy and her six along with 15 itinerants a total of 22 ducks. (Last year we had 28 ducklings of three ages and three moms at once: a record of 31.)
The layout of Botany Pond has a narrow channel to the north. The big ducks had a play session there the other day. Video by Jean Greenberg:
A well fed and happy itinerant hen:
And we mustn’t forget the Cooper’s Hawks, who have been worrying us for weeks. There are two parents and a family of three living nearby, and sometimes they swoop over the pond. But they show no interest in chowing down on ducklings, for which we are grateful: