Bread is bad. Moldy bread is worse.

May 26th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Moldy bread is unfit for ducks

It’s assumed wild birds and mammals have iron stomachs and can eat anything.

Bread is terrible for waterfowl even though they love it. It fills their bellies with empty calories so they don’t forage for more nutritious choices available in their environment. Young birds are especially harmed during their early development. They need extra protein then to build muscle and bone. We’ve had hand-raised ducklings dumped at the millpond park with short legs and bills as a result of inadequate diets in their formative weeks.

Moldy bread can cause ducks to get sickMoldy bread is even worse. Waterfowl can acquire Aspergillosis by being in contact with molds. It can cause chronic respiratory infections or death in adult birds but is devastating in hatcheries where young birds are raised. Flocks of birds sometimes get the condition when visiting farm fields where after-harvest moldy corn exists.

Instead of feeding moldy bread to your backyard birds or bringing it to a local park, throw it out.

Swimming to and from the sunset

May 26th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

A muskrat swims into the sunset at the Brighton millpond

I admit it. We Michiganders bitch about winter by the time March rolls around. Winter refuses to leave us no matter how much we complain. This year, cold evenings have stayed well into May to hamper planting summer gardens. On the other hand, we northerners rarely complain about our summers once the sky blues and sunsets are tinged in golds and pink. While southern states swelter day and night, we are quite content with hot days that end with cool evenings even if it necessitates donning a light jacket.

While the water is still too brisk for most humans, the muskrats and ducks find twilight a perfect time to paddle.

A bonded pair of Mallards swims toward darkness at the Brighton millpond

Finding a new mom for Costco the duckling

May 26th, 2015     2 comments     permalink

Life would be easier if everything on the Internet were true. Several sites state waterfowl hens can’t recognize their own hatchlings for their first week and ducklings don’t know their own mom for about the same length of time. That’s why “creching” occurs — young birds naturally follow other youngsters (any youngsters) and sometimes end up in the wrong family groups in crowded pond conditions. Hens don’t notice these additions because they can’t count worth a damn. The Brood 4 hen is mathematically challenged and has acquired ducklings on at least two occasions. This tale shows some hens are either more observant or better at math than she is.

A 1-2 day old duckling was found alone in Costco’s parking lot Saturday morning. A good Samaritan brought the young bird to Joyce Schuelke, owner of the Wildernest store in Brighton. She’s the local “go-to” resource for everything wild. Facing a busy day in her store, she asked me to find a willing millpond Mallard hen to accept this tiny fellow. Seemed easy enough. Joyce and I have successfully teamed to facilitate many feathered adoptions over the years.

Brood 11 looks at Costco and decides he's part of their familyIt wasn’t difficult to find a brood of about Costco’s age. Brood 11 had 10 chicks nibbling on shoreline vegetation near the Stillwater Grill. Within minutes, the Brood 11 hen was distracted by the unwanted advances of two Mallard drakes and left her tykes alone. Drakes relentlessly pursue hens in this season whether they are caring for broods or just minding their own business.

Mom leads Brood 11 through the underbrushWhile mom was quacking in the distance, I gently tossed Costco within inches of the other ducklings (above, left). The brood looked at him for a moment, decided he must be a sibling they hadn’t noticed before, and all 11 began to forage. Success! Another adoption complete!

Mom returned and led her youngsters through the shoreline buckthorn to reach a more remote location where drakes might leave her alone (right). I was thrilled this introduction went so smoothly … until the family group emerged and I found only ten chicks following the hen. Costco was found paddling in the opposite direction near where he was first placed in his new environment. Peeping and looking for companionship, he found a water lily pad on which to contemplate his options (below).

Costco finds a lily pad to think about his options

Brood 10 peeps for mom who flew away to avoid drakesBy then, the randy drakes had found another hen to chase, the mother of five older ducklings identified as Brood 10.

As mom circled above them, the quintet peeped to remind her she was shirking her parental responsibilities and they weren’t happy about it (right). Nervous, they entered the water. Their incessant peeping attracted Costco’s attention.

Brood 10 enters the pond seeking their mom but finds Costco instead

Costco is accepted by Brood 10

He quickly swam to the brood (left). Success at last? All went well until mom returned to find a smaller bird had joined her clutch. Guess she can count or noticed the size difference. She nudged him out of the group and sent him to forage on his own in the duckweed and algae-covered bay (below).

After Costco is tossed out by the Brood 11 hen, he swims through the duck weed thinking about his options

Costco didn’t understand his exile was permanent and soon returned to Brood 10. The hen decided her subtle approach didn’t deliver the message. This time, she was much more forceful. She bit the tiny bird then grabbed him by a wing and shook him several times (below).

The Brood 10 hen throttles Costco

I felt as helpless as the five ducklings watching their mom. During the throttling, the hen came within a couple of feet of me. She threw Costco onto shore where he scampered up the embankment. With one quick swoop, I had him back in my hand. Thanks, mom!

Earlier in the afternoon, I passed one of the pond’s frequent fishermen. Jarrett commented he had raised both chickens and ducks and still had the accoutrements. He offered to take the bird home to let it rest a bit then he’d find a suitable family it could join. His offer sounded much better after my two unsuccessful attempts. It’s against Federal law to raise wildlife unless one is a certified rehabber. Jarrett will make sure the bird is returned to the wild in due course.

Brood 4 Hen: Kleptomomma or Airhead?

May 26th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

The Brood 4 hen has acquired another tyke

May 24: Count ’em. The Brood 4 hen has acquired another duckling. Either she’s a highly skilled thief or oblivious to the kids she’s mothering and doesn’t notice when another one follows her brood home. I suspect the latter. She’s a vigilant mom who hasn’t lost any of her brood this past week, quite a feat for ducklings in the first two weeks of their lives. Think about that. If any human was caring for 13+, a couple might be left at Wal-Mart unless they were handcuffed together.

The fourth brood has a variety of sizes


May 25th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

The attending drake is a "bronze brother"

Mom is one of Dazzle's 2014 ducklings. She has a white neck band in front.The Brighton millpond is churning out ducklings at a frantic pace now. If my calculations are correct — well, close at least — more than 100 new ducks have hatched and at least 90 of them are still with us through a week of cold temperatures and rain. There have been several dramas along with the crowded conditions but I don’t have time to write about them right now. Soon, you’ll find photos of each brood, but I haven’t had time to post anything about broods 9-13 yet.

The brood is an interesting assortment of colorsOne of the most interesting broods is #14. The hen is one of Dazzle’s daughters from last summer and she introduced 11 ducklings to me last evening. Her attending drake is one of the two “bronze brothers,” but it’s evident he’s not the father of more than half of the clutch. He may not be related to any of them. A Canada goose throttles one of the day-old ducklingsSix of the tykes have typical Mallard markings, four look like mom, and one is a “butterscotch baby” who was probably fathered by a Pekin. I’ll chat with Dumpling about his conduct to see if he had anything to do with that one.

The crowded shoreline north of city hall isn’t without difficulties. When a Canada goose wanted to move his family through Brood 14, it grabbed a day-old duckling by the wing and threw it out of his way (left). I’ve never seen a goose kill a duckling though I’ve heard of it happening. When I’ve witnessed attacks, geese seem to be annoyed by the youngsters and they bite them just to encourage them to move.

Pudgy Cheeks’ family found

May 23rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Pudgy Cheeks brought her family to the bank next to the millpond dam

Pudgy Cheeks plays lifeguard while the tykes swim below herI had monitored Pudgy Cheeks nest for a couple of weeks prior to them hatching and was fortunately to see them while hatching on the night of May 16. But once they left the nest, I didn’t find them at the millpond until May 21. Mom was playing lifeguard at the edge of the pond while the kids swam below her (left).

Last evening had a serious chill in the air. I found “Pudgy Cheeks” beside the millpond dam with her wings lowered to keep her five ducklings warm. One of them had its rear end sticking out (right). A duckling's rear end sticks out from under the hen's lowered wings last nightShe also has a drake who has joined her. Drakes seek companionship with hens to convince them to ditch the kids and start a new family with them. It’s rare for them to show any interest in ducklings.

This hen tolerates park visitors very well. She will probably keep her ducklings near Main Street so you can see them as they quickly grow.

Brood 4 remains a baker’s dozen

May 23rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Brood 4 was resting beside the shore near city hall last evening

All 13 of the ducklings are still with momI found Brood 4 on shore near city hall late last evening and was pleasantly surprised to find all 13 ducklings with their hen four days after the reintroduction of the two wayward chicks. It’s a large brood for any mom to maintain but this bird seems perfectly comfortable with her responsibilities.

Three of the youngsters are obviously smaller and probably joined the brood on their first day of life when mom wasn’t looking a 2-3 days after Brood 4 was born. They appear to be healthy and well accepted by the others.

Dudley springs himself

May 23rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Dudley returns to his semi-active life in the millpondMay 21: After 12 days in exile below the falls, Dudley returned to the millpond to interact with the rest of the flock. I wasn’t there to see him make his decision so I’m not sure what motivated him. Maybe boredom, hunger, or a wink from a passing hen prompted him to climb up the dam and deal with the public again.

You’ll find him on the lawn near Main Street most of the time. He doesn’t appear to enjoy paddling around the pond very much. Even though he’s pictured here in the company of a bonded pair, he’s more of a loner than he is a joiner. He’s too shy to seek the company of other birds and, if any nearby duck hints he’s annoying it, he gets out of its pecking range quickly.

2015 Brood 9

May 23rd, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 18
Pond Location Behind storefronts on Main Street under gas meter
1st Meeting Patty showed me the nest
Duckling Count 5/18 emptied. 6 ducklings verified 5/22.

Found the family 5/22 near city hall with an attending drake.

See all posts about Brood 9 together on one page: 2015Brood9

The Millpond’s Fran Club

May 21st, 2015     0 comments     permalink

"The Fran Club" waits for Franny to take a break from nestingFranny wasn’t with her suitors on Wednesday so I knew she was nesting somewhere nearby. Her beaus will stay near for at least a few days. Then they might decide to seek the companionship of other hens who aren’t nesting.

The “Fran Club” has four members: Rusty, Dazzle, Fred, and Duke. Another drake would dearly love to join them. He’s Dazzle’s son from last summer (foreground, right). He’s kept at a distance by Duke and Rusty but will eventually be granted full membership. What makes them decide interlopers can be allowed into the inner circle? Maybe they just tire of chasing them away.

Franny has found a shady spot for her nest

She's laid 15 eggs!Franny’s nest was easy to find. Perhaps too easy. I hope a predator or human doesn’t disturb it. She’s laid 15 eggs! One doesn’t show in the photo but it’s there. Last summer, she attempted nesting twice. Both nests were plundered by raccoons. They were right along the shore where raccoons stroll while this one isn’t on the bandits’ nightly rounds so there is hope. The ducklings could be a wild assortment since they can be fathered individually by the suitors. Check back about June 18. You might see pictures of them.

The park’s resident rabbit is comfortable around the Fran Club ducks so she often joins them when duck chow is served. I’ve sandwiched three images of her together, below. She seemed especially hungry last night. She might be thinking about having her second litter of the summer and need additional calories. I haven’t seen any gentlemen callers roaming her neighborhood, but rabbits are skilled in finding mates even though they lack saloons, tight jeans, and tank tops.

The park's resident rabbit like to dine with the ducks

Reinventing iris

May 21st, 2015     0 comments     permalink

An iris pattern

Detail of an iris bud complete with a small insectEveryone knows what an iris looks like so I decided I’d fiddle with the images to create close ups instead of descriptive, full-flower ones. Then I thought it would be fun to create a kaleidoscopic image using a portion of an iris (bottom left). It’s not totally successful but has nice patterns and color.

Iris Facebook Cover ImageIf you click the image to the left, you can download it for use as your Facebook Cover Image. It’s prepped to the size you need.

The close up of the iris bud (right) comes complete with a resting insect of some type near the bottom. These gnat-like fliers are common in this season, and the ducks like to eat them as they fly by. They must have a unique flavor since they certainly can’t pack much nutrition.

Close up of an iris bloom Close up of an iris bloom

2015 Brood 5 begins to hatch

May 20th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Mom stood her ground as the birds broke from their shells

I attempted to introduce the wayward chicks to mom while her own eggs hatched. She wouldn't have it!May 16: When I failed to find the original hen who hatched the two chicks that fell over the Brighton dam, I paid a visit to Pudgy Cheeks nest and was fortunate to find several tiny heads sticking out from under her! I counted five but there may have been more beneath her still hatching. She exhibited no stress from my presence. I thought this was the perfect solution. I’d present the two waywards to her and she’s accept them as her own.

I cracked the lid of the plastic bucket and waited for the ducklings inside it to start peeping so their new mom could hear them. As soon as the peeping started, Ms. Cheeks became incredibly agitated and charged the bucket! Instead of thinking they were hers, she was knew they weren’t and wanted them outta there. I removed the bucket quickly and left so she could get back to the business of hatching her own tykes.

I checked the nest the next evening and the family was gone. That’s typical — the hen moves ducklings out of the nest in darkness soon after they hatch. One unbroken egg remained and apparently wasn’t viable.

The duckling in right foreground was still wet after hatching Tiny heads were sticking out from under mom on May 16

A Bullfrog is on duty

May 20th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

A Bullrog waits below a parking lot light for insects to come for dinner. His.

Rainy evenings are the best time to find Bullfrogs like this beauty who are “working” under a parking lot light. Frogs have a job to do even though they might only view it as filling their bellies. They significantly reduce the insect population. We should all thank them for it especially once mosquito season arrives. Unfortunately, they are also capable of taking a toll on ducklings during the first days of their lives. The frog motto is, “If it fits in my mouth, I’ll do my best to swallow it.”

This one is probably a female based on the size of its tympani (ears) Frogs are very patient as they wait for edibles to walk or fly within reach

This Bullfrog ought to be called a cowfrog because it’s a female. You can tell because its tympani (think: ear) is smaller than its eye. Males’ are usually larger than the eyes. Bullfrogs look similar to Green Frogs but lack the ridge of skin that runs from above the tympani to the hips.

Bullfrogs lack the ridge of skin running the length of its body that Green Frogs have When at rest, frogs have a nice rounded shape

This frog is not a contender for this year’s Fringo game. It was found outside of the millpond park. The game will start as soon as I post the first frog on this page.

Missing goslings

May 20th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

If dandelions were rare, we’d cherish each bloom and marvel at its color and the way its seeds set sail on slight breezes. So it is with Canada geese. They are actually beautiful creatures, but they are too numerous to fully appreciate in this region.

There are fewer Canada goose families at the Brighton millpond this year

That might not be true this year, however. There seems to be a dearth of goslings at the millpond. I don’t recall ever seeing a goose family with only one chick before, but I imagine it’s not unusual. There are no large goose families in attendance even though there are plenty of adult geese roosting at the pond’s edge in the evening. Maybe their hatch is late. Geese tend to hatch a couple of weeks before the ducks but only about fifteen arrived then. I’ve never attempted to document gosling counts. The adults all look alike to me so it seems like an impossible task.

I expect, as summer arrives, so will more goose families. The parents walk the goslings to the millpond for the handouts, I’m sure. They stay until they migrate in autumn. It will be highly unusual if this influx doesn’t happen. It might signal environmental factors are in play.

Traces of lights

May 20th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Lights from police cars reflect off of the cemetery fence in Brighton

Lights from police cars reflect off of the cemetery fence in BrightonThere was an event in Brighton requiring about six law enforcement vehicles to gather. Their flashing lights on the glossy vertical fence rails at the Old Village Cemetery caught my eye. The images are grainy but still interesting in terms of color and pattern.

2015 Brood 2 arrived May 15

May 20th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

The bonded drake stayed close to the family but gave no protection to the hen against the rogue drakes

May 15: I discovered three first-day ducklings huddled together in the water near the north end of the pond in the evening. Their mom was quacking in a distant parking lot, a sign she was being chased by a drake or two and had left the tykes untended while she dodged the males. When moms leave ducklings, they stay right where they are left and close their ranks while they wait for her to return.

As mom ushered the chicks away from the pond, rival drakes continued to approach the hen

As the hen waddled away, she tripped over a duckling tipping it over onto its backWithin a few minutes, she flew into view and landed on shore 30 feet from her young trio. They scurried up the embankment to join her on the millpond trail when she quacked an order.

Two rogue males and her bonded drake weren’t far behind. They chased the family into the Wooden Spoon Restaurant’s parking lot. Mom stumbled over one of her chicks sending it onto its back (left) in the melee. It quickly righted itself and was fine, but this illustrates how ducklings become permanently injured early in life.

The hen was pursued by two rogue males and was staying away from the pond The youngsters were quick to sidle up to mom The Mallard hen has a unique head shape because of feather removal by the drakes

The Brood 4 hen has lost feathers on the upper back of her head while mating. This gives her a unique head shape (above right). She’lll be easy to identify until feathers grow back in a few weeks.

Dam Drama: Returning the ducklings to mom

May 19th, 2015     1 comment     permalink

Brood 4 were napping beside the pond when we arrived Sunday afternoonThe three of us returned to the pond Sunday afternoon. Mom and her eleven ducklings were napping beside the dam. It’s a myth birds won’t accept young after being handled by humans. Yet I was concerned she might not recognize these two as her own after being separated for 18 hours and might treat them like the Brood 3 hen did the night before.

Come hell or high water, I decided these chicks would be left in the pond Sunday. It’s illegal to possess injured/abandoned Michigan wildlife longer than 48 hours. If not returned to the wild, they must be delivered to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility.

The Brood 4 hen takes the kids into the pond when they are hungryI imagined the best way to reintroduce the kids to mom was waiting for the hen to swim with her brood trailing behind her. I could then slip the kids behind the last duckling in the line. It would eagerly paddle to join the group and mom wouldn’t realize she had two additions to her clutch. Mom didn’t cooperate. She continued to nap with the huddle of ducklings beside her.

I took a chance and held one of the ducklings until it started peeping. Mom responded to the distress call from the little bird so I released it. It scurried into the huddle of ducklings and the hen accepted it. I dropped the second one. It did the same. Within minutes, the hen led them entire brood into the water. Ah. Life returned to normal.

Reunited, life continues for Brood 4

An hour later, I checked the family and counted 13 ducklings with the hen. Life is sweet when all goes well. Still, there’s little chance all members of this brood will survive to adulthood. The survival rate of ducklings at the millpond for the past four years hovers around 50%, typical for the species. Predators like gulls, turtles, owls, and hawks take their toll along with natural diseases, weather, or physical conditions.

Mom takes her brood to find things to eat

Some members of this brood are smaller than others. They probably were acquired from other hens who hatched their broods a day later — ducklings follow other ducklings and end up in the wrong families. It’s called “creching” and happens when broods are raised close together in crowded ponds.

An attending drake stays near the family

I couldn’t find Brood 4 Monday evening, but the Wacht family sighted them on their evening walk. All 13 ducklings were still with their attentive hen.

The hen lets the chicks forage while she watches over them

Dam Drama: The Pajama Party

May 19th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

It’s not an easy task to keep young birds alive. I’ve attended classes so I know what they require yet I don’t feel comfortable being responsible for their lives. It took an hour to give the youngsters a warm bath, dry them off, and place them in the Peterson Pop Up Hotel suite, a 5-gallon plastic pickle barrel I sterilized and lined with paper towels. I added large jar caps, one full of water, another full of water-soaked duck chow.

The wayward ducklings tucked into their overnight accommodations

Ducklings should be kept at 95 degrees for the first couple weeks of their lives. Their tiny body mass requires external heat to keep them comfortable. I placed a lamp with a 60-watt bulb outside of their barrel close enough to warm one side of their accommodations without melting the plastic or creating a fire hazard. I added an old thermometer inside the barrel to monitor the temperature. Try as I might, I couldn’t elevate the temperature to 95 with the equipment I had, but they huddled together in the paper towel nest I created and quickly dozed off to sleep. The pajama party was a bust. Their adventure in the rapids and two rescues had wore them out!

I was glad to find them alive and peeping when I got woke up later. I’m always grateful when animals in my care don’t die. My “rescues” of baby songbirds in my backyard when I was a wee lad never ended well. Of course, back then I did everything wrong like feeding them Wonder bread soaked in milk a couple of times a day instead of the nutritious foods they needed every three hours. Fortunately, ducklings aren’t as helpless as songbirds. They forage for themselves right after hatching. Their moms merely take them to pond locations where they can find insects, tiny worms, and vitamin-rich vegetation small enough to eat.

You animal lovers who think caring for cute little beings must be a spiritually transcendent joy, you’d think differently after being around a couple of 1 ounce ducklings for less than 24 hours. They treat their specially appointed accommodations with the same respect as drug/alcohol-crazed rock bands. The ungrateful louts crap in their food and beverages and their poop output almost matches their own weight.

Overnight duckling accommodations at the Peterson Pop Up Hotel The aftermath of an overnight visit by the ducklings

Another dam drama :-)

May 19th, 2015     5 comments     permalink

Paddling as fast as he could, the duckling on the right is swept over the crest of the dam

May 16: The hen for 2015 Brood 4 brought her ducklings to the crest of the Brighton millpond dam to forage for tiny insects and plant life. Someone said they counted 15 duclings in the brood the day before. There were only 13 by Saturday evening. Before mom got the kids settled, a Mallard drake decided it was a great time for a romantic encounter with her. The hen gathered her remaining ducklings together after the incidentThe hen bolted to avoid the drake’s advances and two of the startled ducklings tumbled over the dam (top). They had the ride of their young lives in the rushing water over the boulders to the bottom of the 6′ tall cascade. Following the malee, the hen gathered her brood (ten of the eleven pictured, above right).

Mr. Wacht was observing the duck family with his two sons and quickly climbed to the base of the falls to retrieve the tykes (below left), but the swift current swept them into the darkness for a wild ride through the 450 foot tunnel to South Ore Creek. Mr. Wacht announced he and his two sons would try to capture them downstream so they could be returned to their mother. I doubted he’d succeed. Ducklings propel themselves like rockets when approached by predators or rescuers. They’re amazingly fast.

Mr. Wacht joined Dudley below the dam trying to rescue the two ducklings Rescued! Mr. Wacht brought the ducklings back to the millpond

Within 20 minutes, Mr. Wacht returned with a duckling in each hand (above right). Unfortunately, Brood 4 had fled the area. We found another hen caring for seven ducklings (Brood 3) of about the same size/age (below). Could we convince this hen to accept two additions to her clutch? I held a chick as it peeped loudly. The hen perked up. She seemed willing to accept the peeping duckling as her own. I placed him in the water and he quickly joined her brood. I released the second duckling who also made a beeline to the clutch.

Brood 3 was a possible substitute family for the wayward ducklings

Peace and harmony lasted less than a minute. The hen realized the two ducklings were not hers contrary to many online resources stating new moms can’t recognize their own for several days. She chased them away. The confused pair tried several times to join the clutch but the hen wouldn’t have it. Finally, the ducklings got the point and spent two hours peeping/approaching nearby adult ducks hoping to find their mom.

Enter Patrick and Amy. The couple came for an evening millpond stroll. I explained what had happened as they listened to the furtive peeping of the tiny birds in the water and the need to rescue them a second time. While Amy and I chatted, Patrick scooped up the two ducklings with one deft swoop of his baseball cap in the murky water. The couple helped me get a plastic ice cream pail out of my van then left with plans to wash the soaked cap before returning it to Patrick’s head.

Hens seek safe shorelines where they can lower their wings to keep their young warm. They often change locations a time or two during the night if they sense danger. As the tykes huddled together in the pail, I searched for Brood 4 until I decided the ducklings were going to have a pajama party at my home. We would try to find their family again in daylight.

The ducklings await their return to mom

2015 Brood 8

May 18th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 15
Pond Location Raised bed near Sagano restaurant
1st Meeting Under burning bush, watched her nest
Duckling Count None verified, May 15. Hen and eggs gone on this date.

Mallard hen was nesting under a burning bush near Sagano restaurant. Hen and eggs gone on May 15. Eggs could have hatched and the hen moved family to the pond, but since there are no broken shells, eggs may have been stolen by a human or a predator.

See all posts about Brood 8 together on one page: 2015Brood8

2015 Brood 7

May 18th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen “Maybelline” Mallard hen, dark eyes like wearing mascara
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 15
Pond Location North end behind laundromat
1st Meeting On shore
Duckling Count 16 verified, May 17.

Mallard hen has at least three year history of nesting.

See all posts about Brood 7 together on one page: 2015Brood7

2015 Brood 6

May 18th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen with no remarkable features
Drake(s) Mallard drake Attending
DOB (estimate) May 16
Pond Location Tridge and Main Street areas
1st Meeting In water near Tridge at cemetery
Duckling Count 4 verified, May 16.

Mallard hen with attending Mallard drake. Not found on the pond thereafter but family expected back near Imagination Station where mom raising her brood in 2014.

See all posts about Brood 6 together on one page: 2015Brood6

2015 Brood 5

May 18th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen “Pudgy Cheeks,” Mallard at least second year hen.
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 16
Pond Location In nest while hatching
1st Meeting Bheind Main Street storefronts
Duckling Count 5 verified but probably more, May 16.

Saw ducklings as they were hatching, Hen moved them out of nest by morning. Not found on the pond thereafter but family expected back near Imagination Station where mom raised her brood in 2014.

See all posts about Brood 5 together on one page: 2015Brood5

2015 Brood 4

May 17th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen, severe bald spots on head.
Drake(s) Mallard Drake Attending
DOB (estimate) May 15
Pond Location In water near Main Street area
1st Meeting On shoreline
Duckling Count 15 verified by Wacht family, May 15; 13 by May 16

All ducklings have typical Mallard markings, some ducklings probably creched from another brood since they are smaller.

See all posts about Brood 4 together on one page: 2015Brood4

2015 Brood 3

May 16th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen, highly protective.
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 14
Pond Location Shore in front of Stillwater Grill then Main Street area
1st Meeting On shoreline
Duckling Count 7 verified, May 16

All ducklings have typical Mallard markings.

See all posts about Brood 3 together on one page: 2015Brood3

2015 Brood 2

May 16th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Hen Mallard hen with “punk haircut” from males ripping out feathers.
Drake(s) None Attending
DOB (estimate) May 15
Pond Location Shore near Laundromat
1st Meeting In water beside shore, hen missing
Duckling Count 3 verified, May 17

All ducklings have typical Mallard markings.

See all posts about Brood 2 together on one page: 2015Brood2

Sitting tight

May 14th, 2015     1 comment     permalink

"Pudgy Cheeks" didn't budge last night in the crisp air

There’s a frost warning this morning which is bad news for young birds. Hypothermia is the major killer of ducklings and goslings. I found one dead gosling in the millpond Wednesday evening. Cold nighttime temperatures may have been the cause.

Chicks under two weeks old don’t have the body mass or insulating fat and feathers needed to endure cold nights. It’s recommended domestic chicks on farms be kept at 95 degrees (F) for their early life. Wild hens can’t provide ideal temperatures but they keep their young beneath them with their wings down to shield them in the northern states.

In a protected corner, this hen was well protected from the cold air "Onyx" looked content while brooding her clutch

Fortunately, we’ve only had one early duck brood hatch this year. I found four ducks sitting snugly on their nests last night. None of them took a break from their nesting duties while I was there, something they do in warmer weather. The Canada goose count is also low so far this year with only five families and a total of about 15 goslings. New hatchlings should appear within the next few days. The geese seem to be running late and May 16th started a slew of duck hatchings last summer.

A Mallard hen nesting under a burning bush well lined with duck down looked comfortable

Spires of white flowers

May 14th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

An unknown shrub growing beside the Brighton millpond has panicles of white flowers with yellow centers

I don’t know what shrub this is, but it’s growing beside the Brighton millpond. The panicles of white flowers with yellow centers are 4-6″ long. Maybe one of my readers will identify it in a comment.