Things have settled down at Botany Pond now as half the broods have flow and the others will do so in a month or two. There have been no new broods since Coco brought her three to the pond (they’ll be a month old tomorrow). We also have Shirley Rose and her vigorous brood of ten, who are fully feathered and will be flying soon, as well as one juvenile from either Honey’s or Dorothy’s brood (the others have gone). And we have good old Shmuley, who still hangs around with Honey, and Honey herself, who has lost her nasty side and is often timorous. (I worry that she’s becoming a Senior Duck.) There are also about five itinerant undocumented ducks; these may be hens whose nests failed (we had three of those) or simply interlopers. And there may be the hen who brought three babies to the pond that were attacked. I rescued two of them and took them to rehab (I found one dead the next day).
So there’s been lots of drama, but across the morning sky, all the ducks are leaving. Here are a few pictures.
Honey’s brood of four. At least three of these have now flown away, though Honey is still here and hangs around with Shmuley. Fine-looking young mallards, no?
Shirley Rose is up for Duck Mother of the Year for constantly monitoring and tending her brood of ten. Here she is with her brood (I’ve circled her). She’s either in the lead or following them, and they tend to stay together very closely. Remember, these were born on May 30, so they’re about 7 weeks old:
Shirley’s gang resting among the hostas under the tree. Note Shirley standing guard:
Shirley Rose’s brood zooming, which I think is their practice for taking off from the water. I call it “rowing” now.
Flying practice on July 5. I haven’t seen one actually take to the air yet, but they flap their wings constantly. It won’t be long (video by Jean Greenberg). They still don’t know that they can fly!
Shirley Rose’s brood dabbling (snarfing the bottom for food) on July 15:
Another video by Jean Greenberg. In this one Shirley Rose takes her brood back and forth across the sidewalk. Don’t ask me why!
And here’s Coco with her tiny brood of three. She’s a very diligent mother, always overlooking her babies and chasing away anybody who comes close to them. I will ensure that they all fledge!
Coco and her brood have climbed the duck ramp and are having a postprandial rest on the bank.
Sometimes the babies huddle up together like a group of hot dog buns.
Resting on the duck island (note that the babies have their nictitating membranes closed and are asleep). Coco is preening, and the other duckling is behind her.
A close-up of one of her ducklings the other day. They’re starting to get scruffy, and do note that their adult feathers are starting to grow in—as “epaulets” on the small, stubby wings:
Coco’s brood practicing their diving skills on July 14: