The drake who was bonded with Frick for several months before her eggs hatched hasn’t reappeared. That’s not unusual for Mallards, but as the smallest adult duck on the pond, she could use some help defending her offspring. She’s holding her own by staying away from all of the other ducks. When they approach, she quickly swims out of range and her nine day old tyke tags along behind her.
I heard a squawk near city hall and knew Frick was on her way to see me. Trailing her was one tiny duckling. That probably means the other four have been lost since I first saw them on June 21. Even this remaining one doesn’t seem to be flourishing. It didn’t nibble on the duck chow crumbs I threw to it. It’s the size of a 2-day-old but it’s about 8 days since it hatched.
As a first-time mother, Frick might not know how to care for youngsters yet. One of the tasks hen have is swimming her ducklings to nourishing food sources. There are plenty of them at the millpond this year. Small bays are filled with duckweed that’s small enough for the youngest ducklings to swallow and get the nutrition they need. Read all of Frick’s millpond adventures here.
I’m old enough to have had many losses in my life so I thought I might be able to help Frick deal with the destruction of her nest two days ago. In searching for her, I found her under the pine tree again on her old nest. I thought that was odd. I didn’t realize ducks would start laying eggs so quickly after losing a clutch. So I sat down on the raised flower bed’s edge where she was within reach and gave her a couple of handfuls of duck chow. She seemed appreciative to have the company and liked the vittles.
She took a couple of steps out of the nest to get closer to my hand. A tiny, dark head appeared below her. Then another and another. Well, I’ll be damned. Ducklings! Five of them! I didn’t think she had been nesting in that spot for 28 days and her eggs were so clean, they looked freshly laid when I photographed them just four days ago. It didn’t enter my mind that the broken eggs scattered around the nest were the remains of hatching instead of plunder.
Frick let the kids come right to me. I lifted up the little butterscotch babe, the only one that’s not marked like a typical Mallard. What a great surprise. It will be fun to watch these little ones grow up since it’s okay with mom if I’m around even if I have a tendency to write misleading blog posts. This is 2012Brood15. It’s not a contender for the grand prize, but a very happy addition.
|Drake(s)||Bonded to typical Mallard drake|
|DOB (estimate)||June 19|
|Pond Location||City Hall Entrance|
|1st Meeting||June 21 at the nest|
|Duckling Count||5 verified, four are typical coloration, one is butterscotch, June 21|
I saw the empty nest on June 19 with no sign of Frick and several broken eggs scattered. I thought a predator had destroyed the nest.
June 21: Frick was back in the nest which I thought was odd. I didn’t know ducks would renest so soon after their eggs were ruined. As I was hand feeding her, tiny heads started to pop out from underneath her. Babies! Five of them.
Posts including this brood: