Today we have both photos and videos of Audrey’s brood of 12. Yes, all twelve are still here, and are getting bigger and bigger. Further, their first feathers are starting to come in on their tails, which are somewhat elevated and a little spiky.
One thing that pleases me is that they regularly use the duckling ramp to exit the pond, usually after meals when they take a rest. There are few egresses from the pond, and Facilities hasn’t yet fixed the other ramp, which descends into the water at an angle too steep for ducklings to surmount. Still they can get out in two other places.
Here they are walking up the ramp to mom. (All videos by Jean Greenberg).
They often rest on the ramp as well, as it’s sunny and smooth. Here are photos of the traffic jam:
Sometimes they have to struggle to either find a space on the ramp or bypass the resting ducklings to get up to mom. A video:
Napping on the ramp, with their little nictitating membranes closed.
Besides resting, another postprandial ramp activity is grooming. Ducks are immaculate birds, and frequently groom themselves. In the adults, this also helps spread waterproofing oil over the feathers.
When mom’s at the top of the ramp, they often feel secure enough to lie a foot or two feet away, or on the ramp. Here are several shots of a brood besides Audrey.
And they occasionally stretch their legs in what we call “duckling ballet”:
She’s a very attentive mom—one of the best we’ve had. Here she looks out for danger as the babies eat duckling pellets.
They’ve starting playing, too. They pop under the water and then bob up like a cork, or even swim a few feet underwater. This is actually an escape behavior, and play is practice. They also zoom, swimming much faster than you think they could. Some video:
And of course they must learn the most valuable skill of all: dabbling. That involves turning upside down and grabbing a beakful of food or mud from the pond bottom. If they get mud, they squeeze it out of the bill, with the food being caught on baleen-like “teeth” on the inner bill. This is one of their first dabbles:
So far so good! The ducklings are ten days old today. In a month or so they should start rudimentary flight behavior, which begins at about six weeks.
A photo by Jean of them resting on the south “duck island” with their fat little tummies hanging over the edge. Mom, of course, is standing watch nearby.