Bob is integrated!

May 5, 2021 • 9:45 am

For those of you who, like me, were quite worried about Honey’s errant duckling being reintegrated into her brood, worry no more. It is done, and all is well!

And it happened quite quickly—and fortuitously.

First, a picture of Bob on my desk this morning before I took him to the pond. Look at his big reptilian feet!

I took Bob downstairs to show how well he’d recovered to the Team Duck member who’d caught him. At the pond I ran into Meghan Hammond, who helped us last year on Team Duck and filmed Honey’s brood jumping down last year. Meghan pointed out that, huddled on Duck Plaza, was one of our moms sitting on her babies. I assumed it was Dorothy, as one-day-old ducklings aren’t expected to be able to get up there, but Meghan said, “No, that’s Honey.” And, sure enough, it was! Honey was sitting on the grass on top of her eight ducklings, and I had #9 (Bob) in my hand.

The view. You can see Honey’s babies underneath her.

Although it was cold, I knew I would never have a better chance to integrate the orphan into his family. I quickly took Bob, put him gently down on the grass, and he immediately saw his mom and peeped. Honey recognized the peep and turned around to see what was going on.  She quacked, and in less than a second Bob zipped up to her and burrowed under her belly, joining his family. And for about half an hour Bob got warm and met his brothers and sisters, as well as the mother he’d never known.

After a while Honey moved to the pond, leaving her brood on the grass, but they quickly joined her. I fed them all (they’re a day old now), and now they’re all resting underneath her on North Duck Island.

One of the babies below is Bob, but I won’t recognize him. I miss him a lot already, but he belongs with his family. When I was talking to him last night, I told him, “You know, someday you’re going to be a mighty mallard soaring high in the sky.” At the time, I didn’t know if that would be true, but now I think it will be.

What’s amazing is that the mothers have sorted out the babies by age: Dorothy rejects any of Honey’s brood, and sometimes pecks at them, but doesn’t hurt them; Honey eventually comes by to rescue her babies. So she has nine one-day-old ducklings, and Dorothy has ten. The broods aren’t mixing at all, and are palpably different in size although only three days separate them.

As of today, at least, all is well on the pond. I am simply overjoyed that Bob is with his family again!

 

40 thoughts on “Bob is integrated!

  1. How wonderful! Amidst all the bad news and horrors of the world, this is the kind of thing
    that keeps us emotionally afloat. A story with a happy ending, in real life—priceless.

    Ya done good, Jerry!

  2. Fantastic news! Glad your hard work over night had such a happy outcome.

    “You know, someday you’re going to be a mighty mallard soaring high in the sky.” At the time, I didn’t know if that would be true, but now I think it will be.

    A (non-religious) “Amen!” to that!

  3. It’s good to know that the two families are getting along and staying separate, and great news that Bob is back where he belongs. I’ve enjoyed the Botany Pond cam this morning, watching the two moms and their little flotillas gliding around the pond.

  4. “You know, someday you’re going to be a mighty mallard soaring high in the sky.”

    That is an arresting thought – to have known an animal, raised it, in one’s own hands, talked to them, and to one day – potentially see that tiny thing aloft in flight at full size, across the sky on its own – just because one day someone decided “why not help this little guy who’s just sitting around right there?”

  5. That’s good news. Did you consider marking Bob for future identification? I’m thinking something temporary. Or were you afraid that such a mark might reduce his integration chances?

      1. I was thinking a daub of water-based paint somewhere on his head. It would presumably allow you to track him for a few hours perhaps before it washed off. Banding seems like a step too far.

  6. Echoing Kelly. Have loved this story and hope Bob’s rescue and homecoming will be included on Hili’s day list in future years.

  7. Great news. And I’m chuffed that I guessed in a post a couple days ago that Honey would have 9!

  8. “Helen, a duck ran under the couch!” That’s what I yelled that evening when a little duckling ran in the open back door and under the couch.

    I realized immediately that what I had said was completely accurate and made no sense at all.

    We live on a golf course with several ponds frequented by lots of water fowl.

    We eventually caught the little guy and I sat on the couch holding him in a towel until he settled down. Then we got busy Googling “how to care for a wild duckling.” It was Saturday evening. We wouldn’t be able to take him to the Wildlife Rescue Center until Monday.

    After a mostly sleepless night, we cooked up some boiled egg yoke (yes, I know, bothered me, too.) I fed the newly named Don Q out of my hand where he snuggled, and introduced him to a shallow pan of water to which he took like a … I can’t, I just can’t!

    We improvised a shelter with what we believed were duck-friendly amenities – swim bar, lounge chairs, concierge service, palm trees, salsa music. Don Q spent a comfortable day lounging by the pool, ordering snacks.

    On Monday, we took him to the Rescue Center, registered him to get updates, made a donation and bid him farewell. We learned later that he had thrived in their environment and was released into the wild a month or so later.

    1. Well what else could you do? A duckling clearly asked for your help, and you were a gracious host.

  9. Would a donation of duck feed be helpful? If so, what type or brand name and how to get it to you and Team Duck. Must be going through quite a lot. Thanks for all you do. Paul Peed

  10. … Bob got warm and met his brothers and sisters, as well as the mother he’d never known.

    Nice to know Bob won’t have to grow up feelin’ like a motherless child:

  11. One of the babies below is Bob, but I won’t recognize him.

    You should have looked for distinguishing marks or perhaps painted one on him, then once he is integrated, you’ll be able to differentiate him.

    I’m here all week.

  12. What wonderful news! I was confident that Bob could be re-integrated with his mom. I would think that when he had hatched, he would have heard her quack and she his peep, so they likely sorta knew each other, before he fell off the window ledge. Plus Honey is extraordinary and seems to be able to gather little ones to her breast, even Dot’s from last year.

  13. Congratulations to both you, Jerry, and Bob. As mentioned above it’s wonderful to have positive news in the morning.

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