Sunday ducks

July 18, 2021 • 1:30 pm

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:

11 thoughts on “Sunday ducks

  1. Have you ever considered doing a book, The Ducks of Botany Pond? A little personal history, history of the pond, ecology, a bit of evolutionary duck history, some photos, something along the lines of Vincent Dethier’s classic The Ecology of a Summer House or any number of Bernd Heinrich’s books? Just a thought.

  2. Thanks for the charming summary of the current duck situation. Now the duck population could be heading for over-reach of current resources, and I am wondering how you might address that.

  3. Beautiful photos and videos – this and the last summer seem to have passed by more quickly than ever. To quote the great American philosopher Jackson Browne

    I’ve been aware of the time passing by / they say in the end it’s the wink of an eye / and when the morning light comes streaming in / you’ll get up and do it again.

    Amen!

    1. For some reason, I’m reminded of William Oldys’ poem. “On a fly drinking out of his cup”:

      Busy, curious, thirsty fly!
      Drink with me and drink as I:
      Freely welcome to my cup,
      Couldst thou sip and sip it up:
      Make the most of life you may,
      Life is short and wears away.

      Both alike are mine and thine
      Hastening quick to their decline:
      Thine’s a summer, mine’s no more,
      Though repeated to threescore.
      Threescore summers, when they’re gone,
      Will appear as short as one.

  4. There are also about five itinerant undocumented ducks

    Somewhere in the nether regions of hell (Texas, or thereabouts) a Republican stirs, wakes and thinks “We gotta make that wall higher!”

    Maybe “thinks” is a bit strong.

  5. Hectic year at BP, it’s difficult to keep up! News travels fast in the duck-world- BP is the Marriott of duck ponds. Thanks for the update.

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