Sunday duck report

May 29, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Note: the breeding hen is AUDREY: I keep getting her mixed up with Dorothy, who has left the room. The pix below are all of Audrey.

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I’m pleased to report that after 5+ days out of the egg, all twelve of Audrey’s babies are thriving. They’re smart, lively, vigorous, and Audrey has proved to be a diligent and protective mom. What’s even better is that all the other drakes (and the one or two hens hanging around) avoid her and her babies: she seems to have become Queen of the Pond.

Here are some videos and pictures. First, photos of the newborns with and without Mom. (Click photos to enlarge them.)

Mom and the brood:

Only two days after entering the pond, the babies and Mom had already worked out how to get from the main pond to the channel by crossing the grass strip and sidewalk between them. (All these videos were taken by Jean Greenberg).

A fierce-looking duckling and its broodmate:

A happy-looking duckling:

This brood is very smart: they learned how to use the duck ramp to get out of the pond only one day after entering it! After they climb up, they usually huddle under mom to warm up.

But sometimes they like to hang out on the ramp and enjoy the sun:

Find the hen! She’s sitting on all 12 babies, and you can see how camouflaged she is:

Closer:

Here she is, sitting on her brood:

It’s interesting to watch an entire brood get under the hen. They don’t just clump together so mom can squat on them. They find a sitting mother and then force their way underneath by pecking on her side and tail. Eventually she raises her body a bit, and some ducklings squeeze in. This is repeated until all are underneath. But before they go underneath after they’ve just been in the water, they do a bit of preening:

A baby sleeping nearly underneath mom:

A green-breasted baby that’s just been mucking about in the algae:

We mustn’t forget the turtles, and there are many this year. Yesterday I found my first baby ever: a very young red-eared slider () that clearly hatched near the pond. After taking a quick video, we put it on the edge of the water, and it immediately waded in and swam away:

More of the protective Audrey:

16 thoughts on “Sunday duck report

  1. Given that the drakes can be aggressive, as you’ve reported, I’m curious to understand why they have now relented and backed off. Interesting.

  2. Delightful!

    Nature can be said to exhibit certain colors and things, but clearly it is also warm and fuzzy!

  3. Will someone please fill me in.

    But first, the videos are wonderful. Thank you so much, seeing the ducks and wee turtle was a delight.

    I am positive that I have missed something about life at Botany Pond life and the enjoyable Gerry + Honey saga. Have been very interested but almost afraid to ask – what about Honey? I have not seen anything about her this year and am concerned. What have I missed – can someone please fill me in?

    1. Honey showed up earlier in the season for a few days, but she couldn’t maintain her status as alpha duck (perhaps she’s too old) and so flew off somewhere else to breed. At least I know she’s alive.

      1. Ah, life. I will hope then, along with so many others, that wherever Honey went she will have a safe and comfortable life. She is special.

        Thank you for replying Gerry.

  4. These are beautiful! Those ducklings sunning themselves on the ramp is a wonderful photo. Also, I can’t believe she fits them all under her! She looks so sleek and dainty. It doesn’t seem like they would all fit.

  5. Thanks for the duck news. Great photos and videos…very peaceful. That baby slider is too cute. Hopefully it’s safe with the larger turtles. Do adult turtles eat hatchlings? Hope not.

    1. The natural range of the red-eared slider, which must include successful reproduction, extends to the vicinity of Peru, Illinois, just 100 miles from Chicago and at a similar latitude.

  6. I missed the part where Dorothy got her chicks down from the air conditioner. That must have been quite spectacular. But all is well that ends well. Thank you Jerry.

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