Honey is back!

July 31, 2022 • 10:30 am

My favorite duck among all ducks is back in Botany Pond! Yes, Honey has returned!

She may in fact have been here for a while, as we’ve had some itinerant hens in the pond for a couple of weeks. But yesterday a member of Team Duck noticed that one of the itinerants was not only acting aggressively towards the others (Honey’s an alpha hen), but also had black triangles on both sides of her upper bill: a trademark of Honey.  Not believing this duck could actually be my beloved hen, I took a few bill shots with my camera. It was hard because of the contrast and the fact that she stayed in the shade a lot; but matching yesterday’s photos with ones from earlier years, I’ve concluded that yes, Honey is back.

Judge for yourself:

Right side of the bill of the itinerant yesterday:

Right side of Honey’s bill, 2020. This is as close a match as I’ve seen across years. the black triangle is there in both cases, and the other markings are nearly identical.

Left side of putative Honey’s bill, yesterday.

Left side of Honey’s bill, 2020. It’s a good match, not only in the black triangle but the other patterning as well:

This is good enough for me, and I was doubtful of a match.

As you may recall, Honey came here at the beginning of the Spring, but didn’t stay long. I have no idea where she went, nor whether she raised a brood. But I find it ineffably touching that, whatever she did during the summer, she returned to the pond to molt. She’ll be here for a while, as she can’t fly during molting, and we’re feeding her up well with mealworms and corn (her favorite). We’re told that Botany Pond will be dredged and drained next year, and so I doubt I’ll see her in 2023, but here’s hoping that she’ll return in 2024. She’s a Senior Hen now, with an age of at least six years, but a mallard can live up to ten years in the wild.

Two other pictures:

Honey in molt: her primary feathers will be growing back soon.

And a rather plump Audrey, who now has only four babies left, and she isn’t really looking after them that much:

19 thoughts on “Honey is back!

  1. Honey the Duck
    Has had mixed luck
    In her affairs at Botany Pond

    But hey! What a jolt
    Honey’s returned to molt
    And of that PCC is most fond

    May all those mallards and hens
    That Team Duck defends
    Enjoy Botany’s calm fern and frond

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