Honey is back!

Honey has been gone from the pond for the past two days; I knew that because there was no hen in the crowd who was nearly finished with molting (shorter primary feathers), who had a mottled dark bill, and who was aggressive (Honey takes precedence over all other ducks, including Dorothy; she can chase them all away but nobody puts Honey in the corner).

I was worried, though, because although I knew she could fly a bit in her molting state, I didn’t know if she could go far enough away to be absent for two days.

But this morning, as we were feeding the ducks, a hen flew in with loud quacks, landed near Dorothy, and began fighting with her. It was not just a chase, nor a fight to the death, but a moderate battle in which the hens grabbed each other’s necks. Dorothy lost (of course) and retreated to the channel, leaving her babies in the main pond. She was cowed for about five minutes, and then returned to her brood.  Honey settled down and I gave her some corn and mealworms (being the Queen, she spurns regular duck food for the moment). I think Honey simply went after the dominant hen in the pond to re-establish her dominance after an absence.

At any rate, all is now well, and the ducks are well fed and generally well behaved, though woe to the mallard who comes close to Honey when she’s eating!

To verify it was Honey, I took bill pictures this afternoon from the left and right, for Honey has distinctive bill mottling that has been dispositive for the last four years. And, sure enough, it’s my beloved hen. Here, judge for yourself:

Honey’s bill left side 2018:

Honey’s bill left side, today:

Honey’s bill right side 2018:

Honey’s bill right side, today.

Like last year, she comes and goes as the time to fly south approaches. I don’t think that will be for a while.

10 Comments

  1. Glenda Palmer
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Always good to know the Queen is safe and in good bossy form.

  2. Posted August 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    A few subtle changes in the bill mottling, but it’s Honey alright. Surprising how constant the bill mottling has been over the years. Sort of like fingerprints.

  3. Posted August 3, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    She always comes back to you!

  4. jezgrove
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Excellent news (apart from the fight with Dorothy)!

  5. rickflick
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice if you could get a banding license and track comings and goings even more closely. There might even be a paper in it. What percent of chicks return to their birth pond?, etc.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    This disappear/reappear act is par for the course for our Honey. If I’m recalling correctly, a couple years ago she had more exits and entrances than the stage directions for the satires and farces of Molière.

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    … nobody puts Honey in the corner.

    After all, (she’s had) the time of her life.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    That’s her alright. She knows where to go for the best noms around.

  9. mike cracraft
    Posted August 3, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Well done Duckfather ! Your superlative care has brought her back home. Congratulations.

  10. Posted August 3, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh, how lovely! Honey is the most beautiful in the land. All your hard work, devotion and generosity in the care of the mallards shine through, Jerry! Bless your heart.


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