Most of the time, the Brighton millpond is a serene place where wildlife can be seen in an urban environment. There are times, however, when nature’s harsh realities disturb the peace.
Most of the ducks in the pond near Main Street started their lives on farms or backyards instead of in the wild. The wild ducks visit the Main Street area during the day, but fly to the north end to roost at night. All of the domestic ducks have been dumped at the pond by previous owners over the years and the male-to-female ratio is way out of whack. Duck breeders recommend having one male for anywhere from 10 down to three females in the flock. Unfortunately, the ratio at the pond is now 5 males for each female. This has been disastrous.
Breeding behavior began early this year. Since mid-January, the males have pursued the females. Once a chase is on, all of the nearby males join the pursuit. In the top two photos, six males have pinned down a female. She looks dead but isn’t. She’s just enduring the attack as the males mount her and rip feathers from the back of her neck. Attacks last only a couple of minutes but can leave the female bloodied and partially bald. This happens numerous times each day.
One of the female Pekins was badly mauled this past week and then vanished. I couldn’t find her body but assume she died. Only two females remain and both are highly stressed as you can tell from the duck known as Mrs PomPom who was dumped at the pond last summer. The feathers in her crest have been plucked and she has not been doing her normal bathing and preening (above). The other female is the pond veteran, SweetPea. She’s also dirty and balding. Both females often avoid the males, but sometimes they actively encourage the males to mount them. Their instinctual drives might lead to their deaths this year because there are too many males and the breeding season is extended.
*Disclaimer: I’m not an authority on duck behavior. Everything you read at Words4It is based upon my observations and information I read online. As we all know, not everything online is true. If a duck expert reads this, please comment and let me know when I’m presenting incorrect information.