I find myself heading over to one of the windows or doors that faces the backyard countless times a day, simply mesmerized by the activity happening (or not) around the pond.
Mama has her ducklings on a very regular schedule. Like most "littles" (Ashley's name for this brood), they have manic energy, zooming around the pond, eating, jumping the waterfalls, chasing bugs...and then they collapse in a feather heap, snoozing in the sunlight or shade, depending on the time of day. They wake up stretching their little stubby wings or their growing legs...and then they are off and running...again.
I love seeing them eat...so earnest and vigorous. Watching them stand in their food dish is absolutely hilarious. And, Mama has figured out the source of the food and is starting to come close to the patio door when she wants more for herself and the littles.
We are still not attempting to create a bond with the ducklings...we'd like them to stay wild and to leave with Mama Q when their wings are fully developed and they can fly. But, until then, we are sneaking looks and pictures (which obviously are truly point and shoot vs. staged). Here are the latest that Ashley took yesterday.
They have learned to use the pond plant pots to easily get out of the pond. Notice the procession...heading to the recently refreshed food dish. :)
Life is so much better when you get into your food.
Check out the one drinking from the edge of the pond. A new trick that Mama taught them...some of them are getting big enough for it to actually work.
There's a bit of orange around some of the ducklings. That would be one of the fancy pond goldfish who have taken to following the ducklings after feeding time. We think that some of the crumbles attached to their feathers fall into the pond when they swim around...making it quite a fun gravy train for the fish. Isn't life grand?
It's now Day 3 for the Q Crew and they are obviously feeling quite at home in their walled in resort playpen.
Apparently ducks live a quite simple life.
They eat. They drink. They sleep. They poop and then jump in the pond. Then, they start the process all over again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
We're still taking pix through windows so it's hard to get good clear up close and personal shots.
Ashley took some this morning and I thought I'd share a few of the little fluff and fuzz balls.
Isn't this one absolutely adorable? Looks like he/she is getting ready to attack the lily blossom :).
The little tykes are getting adventurous and brave enough to hop in the pond without Mama...she quietly sits on the warm rocks surrounding the pond and lets them splash and skid through the water. They LOVE it!
Of course, once out of the pond, they are ravenous. Ashley has been mixing up some duck starter a couple of times a day and they really get into their food...sometimes, quite literally. Nothing like standing right in the mushy stuff to make sure you get your fair share!
Mama has been taking them on short excursions around the yard...nothing too far from the food and the nest, though.
She actually let me water the yard today without any hissing...just a few little quacks to the ducklings to tell them to gather 'round. Believe it or not, they listen. Maybe she could share her secret with some of the moms who bring their kids to my local Costco :).
OK, gotta go now...will update when they do some new stuff.
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, egads...IT IS A DUCK!!!!!
Since it's been a while since I posted, let's rewind back to March.
One morning, I looked out the back window by my studio table and much to my surprise, there was a duck! She was swimming in the pond like she owned the place. Knowing that it was spring and that spring meant a nest and eggs and that eggs eventually meant more ducks, we gently shooed her out of the yard and back to the canal behind our house.
We figured that we had the situation handled when she didn't come back the next day.
But...the following day, she was back!
Again, I fluttered my hands at her and she flew away, quacking at me the whole time :).
This time, she stayed away for a few days...but there must have been something about our yard that drew her back.
Sorry little duck...find another spot for your nest.
Fast forward to Easter Morning. We headed off to church pretty early on Sunday morning...a gorgeous day, a great service...home to have some hand dyed Easter eggs for breakfast.
We headed outside to check what was happening in the yard and lo and behold, look what she left for us! An honest to goodness Easter egg!
OK, we got the message. She was there to stay and really...an egg on Easter Sunday? It had to be some kind of sign.
We named her Mrs. Q (for Mrs. Quacker) and decided that this whole duckling thing was going to be quite an adventure.
She began coming to the yard and laying an egg in her nest under the bench each day. Once the egg was laid, she would take off back to the "guys" waiting on the other side of the wall. What's funny is that a couple of times, she saw us walking along the canal and would slip into the yard while we were gone. Smart little thing.
She's one of the prettiest mallard ducks we've seen with striking markings around the eyes.
Of course, we googled anything and everything about wild ducks laying and nesting habits, as well as what we could expect as far as hatching. The word was that once she started sitting on the nest (that's after all of the eggs in the clutch have been laid) it would take anywhere from 28 to 30 days for the ducklings to hatch out.
We wondered how she was going to react to the patio filled with women during the April 6th workshop. She did great...popped out for a few hours in the afternoon to eat and rehydrate herself...and then came back to do her job.
We've been like expectant grandparents...counting the days, getting out extra water bowls for the ducklings, putting a grate on the pond skimmer, etc., etc.
Yesterday, Mrs. Q was restless. Yesterday was day 28. Yesterday, we were watchful.
Late afternoon, our watchfulness was rewarded when we started seeing little duck heads popping out from under Mama Q. Oh what a funny sight, both inside the house (all of us with binoculars looking through the blinds so as not to spook her and the ducklings) and outside (with the little squirts hopping around, drying themselves and rubbing against their mama to cover themselves with oil). After they were dry, she spread her wings, covered all of them and went to sleep.
This morning, she kept them pretty quiet until it started getting warm out. They hopped out from under her, started scooting around a bit, then went back into the nest. Next, she walked them over to the water dish and showed them how to take a drink.
I started mixing pancake batter for breakfast and then happened to look outside. In the few minutes I was away, she managed to hop into the pond and every last of of them (there are 10!!!!!) followed her in. Thankfully, they are all swimmers!
I snapped a couple of pictures of them from inside the house, looking through the slats of the blinds...not the greatest picture but at least you can see them in all of their cuteness! They are fairly large, healthy and really vigorous. She showed them how to pick at the lily pads to find snails and algae...they are definitely fast learners. I was telling Vern about how smart our ducklings were...and then had to laugh. I told him that I sounded like a proud grandma :))).
Here's Mama Q with her brood.
After about an hour of splashing, swimming and scooting across the lily pads, she showed them how to get out. Every last one of them jumped from one of the plant pots to the moss rock pond surround. She showed them how to shake and spread wings to dry off, then nestled them under her for a little sun bath. Once they warmed up, she put them in the nest for a few minutes.
Next, she took them exploring around the yard. Apparently, while I was uploading the pix and blogging, she even traipsed across the patio right by the back door, with 10 ducklings in a row behind her. Wish I would have seen that.
They're back in the pond.
It's going to be a blast watching them grow up. We'll have them for about the next 50 days until they learn how to fly. We've got some special feed for them to make sure they all get enough food and of course, swimming is a piece of cake for them in their water playpen :).
OK, off to see what's happening with Mrs. Q and the "Q Crew".