It’s been decades since I’ve read textbooks about dominant and recessive genes. The years have taken their toll on my understanding. Maybe a reader will explain it to me again. This past week has made me realize this particular hen has been a star of this blog without me realizing it. So I’m naming her to make it easier for me to write about her. A blog “tag” now compiles posts of her life on the pond. I’m not a fan of naming millpond ducks. It makes them seem more like pets than wild beasts, but it helps me quickly describe them and avoid writing, “the tan duck that lives in the north end of the millpond that started with a brood of 13.” Even though I’ve done it, I prefer names that aren’t cute. Cute names diminish the animals’ stature each time they’re uttered.
Meet Confidia. I’ve been calling her that to myself since last autumn because she’s so confident as a mother. Except for her disheveled appearance after her late brood in 2011, she handles mothering with ease. I’ve been photographing her for three years but she might have been hatching broods much longer than that. She’s a pitbull with feathers: stout with a muscular neck, strong bill and upright posture. No other duck on the pond has her carriage. I think she’s of Buff Orpington stock, but a duck expert could convince me otherwise.
She produces ducklings with diverse markings while most hens’ ducklings look identical and are difficult to tell apart. Besides their various colors, facial markings vary from chick to chick. These close ups confirm it. I’m sure it’s genetics, that her own genes play second fiddle to those of her mates. I can’t explain it beyond that. Maybe that’s enough.
Notes about her current brood
One little guy (pictured) has injured his right leg and can’t put weight on it. He hops, tumbles, and then rests. He still looks healthy but his long-term survival is in question. The yellow duckling seems passive and smaller (see above pictures). It might not be getting its share of nutrition. Time will tell for these tykes.