The dorm ducks are still doing well, and we still schlep over a cart full of food and water to the dorm plaza three times a week. Here’s a full cart ready to go: there are about ten gallons of water, a large quantity of duckling pellets (also good for mom, though she flies off every day, presumably to feed and bathe in a nearby pond), some freeze-dried mealworms, and spare food dishes and paper towels.
Yesterday the whole brood of ducklings (well, teenage ducks) was waiting by the door, and when we came in they ran toward us. They were clearly hungry, and the first thing they did was eat a huge meal. While they were doing that, my job was to take the pools and water dishes, empty them out, and take them in the restroom to scrub them clean with soap and water. It’s a nasty job because the ducks aren’t particularly sweet-smelling (their leavings smell like fish!). While I’m doing that, the other members of team duck clean out the “swimming pools” and replenish them with water. After that, I return with clean dishes and vessels, and we leave out a bunch of food and clean water.
By then the ducklings have eaten their fill (for the moment) and they have a swim.
Maria, the mother, was there yesterday, and was watchful as usual. They’re all getting tamer, now to the point where I can dump fresh water into the small “pool” while a duckling is swimming in it. Here’s one having a fine old time splashing, dipping, and dunking:
Only about eight of the ten can fit in this pool, but yesterday we put a larger one (a “cement mixing tub” from Home Depot) in the shade on the grass, under a tree.
Maria is always between us and her babies, but she trusts us quite a bit now. She’s a great mom!
After food and a swim, the ducklings repair to a shady spot to preen and then have a nap. This order of tasks is invariant. Note Maria between us and her brood.
When Mom is there, they scatter about a bit, but when she’s gone they huddle close together. That’s clearly an adaptive behavior:
The lovely Maria and some of her babies:
Look, they have most of their feathers now! And we haven’t lost a duckling (“no duckling left behind” is our motto”).
They still have down on their backs, but they’re about 2/3 the size of Mom. Two in the pool. The one with the orange-yellow beak is likely a female (hen), while the one in the foreground, with more green in the beak, is probably a male (drake):
A snoozing duckling. Note the down on its back.
We’re going to have a hot three days this week, so extra water is called for.