It’s almost duckling time!

April 30, 2021 • 2:30 pm

I estimate that at least one brood of ducklings (probably Dorothy’s) will hatch in the next week, and Honey’s brood will hatch soon thereafter. Both hens have been sitting tight on their nests for a few weeks, coming down to the pond only for an hour every one to three days for a drink and a snack. (I have to peek at the pond every 15 minutes or so to see if there’s a hen there, as I have to rush down to feed her since they are always eager to get back to their nest.

Today Honey came down, got a hearty feed, and then, as usual, bathed and preened herself for a long time before flying up to her nest. I took advantage of her being on the pond to sneak up to the third floor of Erman hall to have a peek at her nest.

First, the Queen herself: Ms. Honey. She’s in excellent shape, because most hens eat almost nothing while incubating, but she flies down and gets fed a two-course meal (pellets and mealworms). She’s nice and plump, and ready to care for ducklings.

And her vigorous bath:

A happy and immaculate hen:

Her mate Shmuley, of course, was close by:

And her nest. I counted 7 visible eggs, but there are undoubtedly more buried in the fluff. These pictures aren’t great because I had to take them through a screen, and the autofocus focused on the screen. The eggs are nestled in the feathers that Honey plucked from her breast, and are pastel green, as all mallard eggs are.

Four eggs. Just imagine—each of these will become a duckling!

And the moment when Honey decided she’d been off her nest long enough, and flew back up. Just a few milliseconds earlier and I would have had a complete photo, but it’s hard to time when she’s going to take off:


5 thoughts on “It’s almost duckling time!

  1. It’s soon going to get very exciting on Botany pond! I’m guessing Honey has this many: 🐣🐥🐥🐥🐥🐣🐥🐥🐥

  2. As a worried, avian step-parent-to-be, I feel for you. My story begins in December, when I put up some faux Christmas greenery around our front door. We were supposed to have a family get-together here – people coming in from New York and California. That of course, did not happen. Being stubborn, I decided to leave the greenery up until our get-together did happen – now scheduled for late May. Several days ago, I noticed a small bird fluttering about our front door area. This morning, I noticed what looked like signs of a possible nest under construction in the faux greenery. I didn’t think that was really the best place for a nest, so I decided to dismantle it before it got too far along. Too late; on inspection, I found a complete nest with two little [less than an inch long] sky-blue eggs. The nest was in front of a window above the door, and we were spooking her every time we went into the kitchen, so I put some cardboard to block that window. Hope that was the right thing to do. I looks like the greenery may not be coming down when our get-together is over.

  3. OK – you’ve convinced me. I used to feed “my” pigeons next door in the park – then I stopped because I don’t know where they went (they did)! but I went indoors. Now I’m vaxxed 🙂 and we can go outside here I’m going back and the pigeons will be the better for it. I have a bunch of food for them.
    You go to war with birds you can get. Was that Rumsfield? hehehe

  4. Coming next year – some CS student at (probably) Chicago gets together in a dark room with an engineering stundolt, and builds a food-dispenser operated by the (putative) beak patterning of individual quackers.
    – In the same year – biology students show that beak patterns are / are not effective quacker-IDs.
    – After concluding that that approach doesn’t work, next year Chinese duck farmers make it work adequately in an industrial setting.
    – In 2025, beak-patterns are being used in duck-psychology experiments.
    – 2030 sees the introduction of human lip-crease patterns as confirmation of your passport ID.

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