By the end of March, most of the females had bonded with one or two drakes for the nesting season that was still more than a month away. One of the advantages of bonding is the protection their partners provide when rogue males attempt to mate with them. In past posts, I’ve mentioned that I’d never seen bonded drakes provide much protection. Since writing that, I have seen a few instances when drakes have driven off the unwanted advances of rogues who come calling. Most of the time, however, the bonded partners are ineffective and the visiting males press on regardless.
The Buff Orpington hen shown in these images has had two very attentive suitors throughout the mating season. They follow her everywhere, but when a Rouen male paid her a visit, they were helpless to thwart his advances. His size is a factor. Rouens look like giant Mallards weighing up to 12 pounds while the suitors are in the 7-8 pound range. After initial attempts to use force to get him to leave (above left), they gave up and stood nearby helpless (above right). The commotion of mating often draws a crowd. Some come to watch like this Canada goose (below left) but additional drakes will participate. The hens usually end the event. They break free without assistance. Then each of the ducks flap their wings to dissipate the adrenalin rush and go on with their lives. The suitors might join the aggressor in foraging in the area with no hard feelings.