The three Black Swedish hens have hatched a total of 22 ducklings this season and, if history indicates the future, at least one of them will nest again this year. The easiest way to tell them apart is by counting the number of chicks with them: Pearl has two, Ruby has four, and Babs has … oh wait a minute … NONE! Details below.
Pearl’s three ducklings hatched on May 26 and is Brood10. She’s lost one but dotes on the remaining two. She can usually be seen in the main area of the pond near Brighton’s City Hall or the Tridge. Her “bib” is “U” shaped.
Ruby has the largest bib of the Swedes and is the duck chased into the street by two drakes where she was hit by the SUV on May 1st. She survived with no apparent injuries and started nesting soon afterward. Her Brood11 clutch of six ducklings was born on May 31st.
She has lost two chicks but is a good mother. She keeps the ducklings close and hides them in a dark corner of the pond at night. She stays in the same general location she did with her 2012 duckling (she only had one) that hatched a month later, June 25, than this year’s kids.
Pearl and Ruby roosted within 30 feet of each other one night during this past week. They don’t pal around the rest of the year, but they obviously get along and probably trust one another.
Babs, however, is another story. I don’t know how to tell the age of a duck. One of the three might be the mother of the other two and my bet goes with Babs because of her behavior. Last weekend, I praised her for being an attentive parent and posted pictures of her picnicking with Brood5. By Monday, however, the drakes convinced her to leave the ducklings behind as they did in 2012.
She was caught red handed lolligagging with the drakes (below) while her 11 ducklings were 700 yards away. This disqualifies her for the Mother of the Year award again this year.
On the first night the kids were on their own, Babs stopped by while I was visiting them. Maybe she’s giving them some attention. The next evening, a couple of drakes hovered near them, but I wouldn’t call it protective parenting (left). By the third night, the group splintered. Only five of the 11 greeted me. The others showed up later, but it shows there isn’t strong cohesion between them. I’ll keep reporting as they grow into adults. Babs had a second brood last year so I expect her to have one this year, too.
While it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been close enough to her to count ducklings, I’ve seen Blonde Bombshell #2 swimming with the kids at dusk on several occasions. She brought them to see me up close this past weekend. She’s lost two of her original four. The remaining pair look to be in great shape and she’s a wary mother. Before she began nesting, she’d almost run up to say hello to me. Now she’s more reserved, skittish. That’s good! She’s keeping her brood’s safety in mind all of the time.
She has signs of mating stress. The back of her neck and head have lost some feathers recently. She also waddles with a slight limp, She has all of her toes so it wasn’t a turtle encounter. The babes are three weeks old now and well on their way to adulthood. In 5-6 weeks, they’ll be ready to fly. Their grandmother is nesting again so I doubt they’ve had a chance to meet her.
After four days of trying to find Blonde Bombshell #2 after first spotting her with babies on June 14, she decided it was time to let park visitors meet her quadruplets. She brought them onshore behind the Fire Station last evening. Three of them look like her bonded Mallard drake partner (who has fled at least for a while) and one is gray, a typical color for her Buff Orpington heritage. It might be a while before she can introduce them to grandma since Confidia (Brood 4) has left her remaining six ducklings in the shaky care of her two drake suitors. Although she might have been snatched by a predator, it’s more likely she is nesting again and will remain hidden for up to four weeks.
Bombshell’s presentation of the kids was not without incident. The five abandoned ducklings that are six weeks older than her newborns came too close and she confronted them (above left) and tussled with one. After he submitted (right), she continued her attack so he fought back and grabbed her wing (above right). It ended in a stalemate, but the older ducklings got the message and stayed away from the youngsters. That’s a good sign. It means Bombshell is able to defend her ducklings so they have a better chance at surviving the first critical weeks of life.
||Blonde Bombshell #2, I think
||Unknown, but probably her bonded mallard drake
||Far shore, north end near laundrimat
||Seen from across the pond on shore with wings lowered at dusk,
couldn’t verify count looked like 4-5
June 13: Blonde Bombshell #2 has been missing for several weeks and there are few ducks as light as she is. Duck seen across the pond was a light tan so I assume it’s her.
Posts including this brood:
06/12/12 :: Revelations at Dusk