Winter ducks

January 31, 2021 • 2:00 pm

I was much relieved when the ducks left the pond after it began icing over, but I’ll be damned if the curséd fowl haven’t returned. They’re not here every day, and I have no idea where they go, but two or three pair seem to drop by every few days. And, softy that I am, when I see them I hie myself down to the pond with two containers: one of “scratch grain” (corn, seeds, and grains), and the other of high-class Mazuri duck chow. They’re always hungry, too, which would make me feel guilty if I didn’t feed them.

First, though, some winter scenes at Botany Pond:

The pond is very placid and quiet after a snowfall. Ice has formed everywhere except at the fresh-water inlet and at the two bubblers that oxygenate the water. There is little open water and no natural food, ergo no ducks:

The students are quite good at making snowmen (snow people?). Here’s a good one; it even has a fishing pole.

Then someone put two ducks on its head: a big one pecking the snowperson’s head and a smaller one on top of that. There are also tiny ducks at the base:

Duck tracks in the snow tell us that waterfowl have been here:

But wait! A pair showed up late this morning!

The hen and drake were familiar to me, as the hen has been here several times. She has a distinctive ribbon of dark coloration going horizontally across her bill. And of course she has her handsome swain. They could be Yuri and Lara (named from “Dr. Zhivago”), but I can’t find my last post asking readers to suggest names.  They got lost of scratch grain:

And duck pellets, which you can see strewn on the snow:

They were hungry; they ate like gangbusters. Here’s a video of the unnamed pair eating pellets (this was from January 26, but you see it’s the same hen):

And they love the scratch grain. Note that the hen in particular (Lara?) has to wash down nearly every bit of the grain with a drink of fresh water. The drake doesn’t need so much water:

Another pair showed up later, but I haven’t photographed them yet. I’ll do so, and feed them again, when I go home.

Isn’t she cute? (You can see the snow is still falling.)

After a huge lunch, the two repaired to one of the small remaining areas of open water. I wish these ducks had flown south, but I guess we’re stuck with them. Lord knows where they go on the days when they’re not here.

10 thoughts on “Winter ducks

  1. My guess is they go out to some open fields nearby to feed. Also they may be going to open water- a small creek or river. With heavy snow finding food gets harder.

  2. Only two? Ummm. I’ve got at least 100 hangin’ out in our pond everyday, all day long. They also leave, en masse, at dark but show up promptly again before dawn.

    Today at least 150 showed up. I fed them three times and they we’re still lookin’ for more!

  3. The snowman (relying on tradition and sure to land me trouble) is a beauty. The fishing rod and “lure” if that was it intent reminded me a giant spinner bait. The embellishment added later only adds to the charm. And above all the afternoon dullness is winter spelled large. Perfect setting, perfect weather if only for ducks and snowpeople (and occasional students.) Thanks for this post. It is also perfectly gray here and a predicted icy snow never appeared. I’m in favor of snow; ice not at all.

  4. These ducks may be spending the winter on the Chicago waterfront. When I lived in Toronto, we used to go over to Toronto Island in the winter to go duck-watching. As long as there’s open water, they seem to get by – there’s certainly less competition for resources. The winter there’s no worse, I think, than what you get in Chicago.

  5. Snowmen are colonialist (cold countries colonizing warm ones!) cishetero (many have comical penises, sometimes a carrot. Have you seen a VAGINA on a snowman? Didn’t think so) and indicative of white priv. (they’re 100% white).
    And exactly how many are trans snowmen I ask you? Huh. NOT. SO. MANY.
    And DON’T you forget it! Robin Di A. has been informed.

    You’re welcome!


  6. Little more than a jot or a tittle perhaps, but curséd should in any event, be cursèd.

    Damned pedant, I am.

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