Thursday ducks: a new but small brood!

July 1, 2021 • 1:30 pm

On June 21 we were doing our morning duck feeding and noticed that there was a mom with three tiny ducklings by her side, floating in the water at the south end of the pond. It was a new brood that had clearly jumped into the pond less than an hour before! It’s the smallest brood we’ve had, and perhaps the last for the season. We’ve been monitoring other nests in the area, and they all seem to have been abandoned or destroyed by raccoons.

I didn’t announce the birth at the time because I didn’t want people flocking to the pond and disturbing the babies.

So meet Coco (so named because this is brood #5) and her three babies, with the first photo taken within an hour after they jumped into the pond from the windowsill. They’re doing great: the other ducks don’t even notice them. Coco is a great mom, ready to fiercely go after any other duck that comes near. And they’re all eating well.

Coco and her brood on Hatch Day, essaying the “Waterfowl Starter Chow”:

The babies learned to climb the duck ramp within only one day, which is wonderful as it gives them a chance to rest and get dry. They are now eating heartily and getting bigger:

Coco snoozing with her trio o’ babies:

Together on North Duck Island:

We mustn’t forget the others. It’s been a good summer: all the ducks are getting along, nearly all the pesky drakes have left, and nobody bothers Coco and her brood.

The original two broods, Honey’s four and Dorothy’s ten (plus the Peepster) have all grown up, and are starting to fly around tentatively, taking off only a foot or so. Honey seems to come and go, as she is wont to do when her babies are grown.  She’ll soon molt, as will the other breeding mothers, and be unable to fly for a few weeks.

The second pair of broods, with Shirley Rose’s ten and Misty’s five, are also thriving, but have reached the scruffy teenage phase, when they have grown a lot of their feathers but also some down. Here are some pictures of Shirley Rose et famille. This was taken about a week ago, and they have considerably more feathers now.

They are scruffy ducklings, with feathery wings and tails but with down in between and on their pates:

This was the same brood photographed about two weeks before the picture above. Shirley Rose is in the foreground:

Shirley Rose’s Armada preening on the center duck ring today:

And a video of some dabbling for food in the mud. These birds won’t be flying for another four weeks or so.  Note that their feathers are well developed in most areas but they still have fuzzy butts.

Here’s Dorothy with her graceful neck. You can see the dot under her right nostril that gave her the name “Dot”, which turned into “Dorothy”:

And a juvenile dabbling. Bottoms up!

And the reptiles: our pack of red-eared sliders getting some sun this afternoon:

More duck news soon!

16 thoughts on “Thursday ducks: a new but small brood!

  1. Great to have an update – and lovely photos, too. That is a lot of ducklings for such a small pond, so I’m glad that things are so harmonious.

  2. How long will it take these babies to grow to the point where they’re
    pretty sure to be safe?

    1. With our constant monitoring and care, I’d say that by two weeks they’re safe. Right now we’re nearly there, and I’m confident already given the mother’s behavior and their tendency to stick together. Coco is not a scatterbrained mom like Dorothy was last year (Dorothy would fly away for over an hour sometimes and leave her ducklings peeping in a huddle.)

  3. Happy to see this update with lots of photos. Is this situation unusual? I keep wondering if this many hens would be able to mange so well, with so many duckling, in the same small space – in the wild. Is it not the loving care from Jerry Coyne that makes this possible?

  4. Thank you for the update Jerry. New resident Coco and her happy family are a welcome sight. Keep up the good work.

  5. Botany pond has sure been busy this Summer. It’s great to have a replenishment of the little cuties.

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