Amy the library duck

June 23, 2023 • 8:55 am

My hopes for a mallard-free year have been cruelly dashed. As I noted the other day, I rescued eight newborn ducklings that were wandering around campus with a mother who was leading them about aimlessly (they never would have gotten to water). Those are now at Willowbrook and will be brought up with care.

I received a call the other day, which I’ve also recounted, that a hen had nested on a windowsill at Regenstein Library—the main campus library—and the people there had named her Amy. She’s sitting on eggs, and we estimate a hatch date of about July 10. I suggested that they put a tub of water on the ground near the nest for when Amy wanted a drink or a bath (they leave the nest for an hour about every five days to tank up and wash off), and they did it immediately. They love her! Here’s the tub (it’s now full to the brim with water):

The window where she’s sitting has a webcam with chairs in front of it so people don’t disturb her. Here’s a photo of Amy burrowed down in her nest, probably to both avoid the heat and camouflage herself and her nest. (The window is dirty, but you can see her head at lower right plus the patterns on her feathers.)

They have put contact information for me next to the window in case people need duck help. I redacted that information.  You can see that the library people love her; this is what happens when a duck nests on your windowsill:

Finally, the live duck cam focused on Amy and her nest, which operates 24/7, is here, and you can also access it by clicking on the screenshot below, taken just a few minutes ago. Make sure when you go to the site that the video is turned on (i.e., you see a little triangle in the lower left corner).

And remember, ledge-nesting is a novel behavior in mallards. In the wild they nest on the ground, but as they’ve moved into urban areas, they’ve discovered that some window ledges, not accessible to ground predators, make ideal nest sites.

After checking on Amy yesterday, I got a call from Facilities that there’s a family of ten ducklings marooned on a dorm roof. It’s the same roof as last year, and I did one rescue/rehab there but the female re-nested right after that and managed to raise a second brood on the grassy roof (there are trees, too). I am bringing them food and water this morning, and checking on the situation. If mom is there, I’ll make sure they have food and water for the six weeks it’ll take for them to be able to fly.

No rest for the weary!

7 thoughts on “Amy the library duck

  1. These new nesting behaviors are fascinating but I fear that more and more bird species will eventually become dependent on conditions associated with humans. The white storks in my country nest only on chimneys and poles erected by humans.

  2. Magnificent project, looking forward to seeing the little ones.

    [… can’t… resist… attempt at humor…]

    Would waders help?

    I kid I kid!

  3. You can take the water out of Botany pond, but you can’t take the ducks out! Hope you’re able to help all the ducks and ducklings that end up in your care this year.

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