Confidia is a trooper raising ducklings. I’ve photographed her broods for three years. They are always beautiful birds with unique markings. This close up (right) shows a quartet of them so you can see their individual markings. This is Brood 24 (above), her second of the summer. She’s the bird in back and although she looks smaller than her offspring, she’s the same size as they are now. It started with 10 ducklings. Four of them were quickly lost to turtles (probably), but since then, the remaining six have prospered due to her protective nature. She’s still mothering even though the kids are 11 weeks old. They’ll start flying soon (if they haven’t already). The flights will be short. They’re partially farm breeds so their stout bodies are too large for migrating. It’s likely they will be year ’round residents of the millpond like her previous broods.
Confidia’s platinum blonde ducklings are having a rough time . I’ve posted how her older one (Brood 4) has a metal ring around her lower bill, but now I’m seeing a large nodule on the left jowl of her younger one from Brood 24. Wish it would stand still long enough for me to get a crisp photograph. The left photo is fuzzy and doesn’t click through to a larger one like the others. The top shot shows her with five of her six siblings so you can compare the right and left jowls. I was able to momentarily restrain her while another park visitor felt the bump. It appears to be soft rather than firm. See Comments for more info.
Confidia brings her seven ducklings (Brood 24) out of the water to pose for me. Clicking on the picture will bring up a larger one that’s 754k, larger than most click-thrus on the blog. I wanted you to see how distinctive each of the ducklings are. Each one of them will be easy to recognize as they grow up. The same is true with the young of the dark hen (below) from Brood 27. Instead of just a bib, one of them has a white collar that wraps completely around his neck and wisps of white behind his eyes.
It won’t be as easy to report on the Brood 26 ducklings (below) because they will blend in with most of the other ducklings born this summer.
One of the chief duties of hens is to escort their young to places in the pond where they can find nutritious food. During a rain storm, the mom found lots of tiny plants were dislodged from the edge of the pond and had her babies grab it as it floated toward the dam (above). She also took them to a plant at the edge which was catching duckweed in the stronger than usual current as it floated by (below right).
A few clutches of ducklings might hatch before the 2012 Brighton Millpond Fertility Tournament wraps up for the year, but it’s doubtful another duck will rival Confidia for enthusiasm. Her first brood was born May 18 and contained 13 (six survived to adulthood) while her current brood of ten, almost a month old now, has seven survivors (above). Her total of 23 ducklings hatched is the record for the year. The surviving 13 comprises more than 12% of the total born this year by 26 hens.
After a few days of mingling separately with the greater flock (see August 6), her first brood has reassembled. They’ve decided they like the companionship of their siblings better than joining new partnerships. All six are in the photo (above right) but one is lost in the shadows, upper right. Interestingly, Confidia’s two broods have a similar color mix that probably signals they have the same father(s): first brood had one yellow, six grays, and six mallard-colored ducklings; the second brood has one yellow, three grays, and three mallards. The pond is more colorful these days due to her efforts.
Even with careful searching I was unable to get an accurate count of the ducklings in Brood 27 until last night. There are four of them (above), all black with golden chest spots. The hen prefers to take them into the water after sunset. I’d seen her white bib moving across the pond on two previous nights, but it was too dark to see babies traveling beside her.
Confidia, the hen for Brood 24 (right), doesn’t use stealth as one of her methods for keeping her ducklings safe anymore. The cover of darkness was important for the first couple of weeks. She’d move them to new locations then and finally take the little ones deep into the shoreline weeds at bedtime. Now she can be seen in daylight as she takes the kids to locations where they gobble up duckweed and small invertebrates to grow big and strong. The survivors of Brood 4, her first clutch this year, are proof she knows what she’s doing due to their size and healthy appearance.
Confidia is one of the Brighton millpond’s veteran hens. She’s been consistent in restocking the pond with large broods for at least the past three years. That’s when I started watching her.
She’s the mom of thirteen were born on May 18, 2012 (2012Brood4). The six ducklings still alive on June 19th were left in the care of her two male suitors. She knows what she’s doing: all of those ducklings have survived while she went off on her own to build her second nest!
She arrived with ten new tykes in tow on June 13th. The first time I saw them was June 15th when these photos were taken. She brings them to areas in the pond where duckweed is plentiful so they get nutritious food. I don’t have a first-day count; she may have had a few more then. Very young ducklings often die quickly after hatching. If someone saw her with more, I’d like to know about them. This is 2012′s Brood 24 and is as colorful as her first batch and probably have the same fathers. It’s interesting that she has another brighton yellow duckling in this group, too.
Count the ducklings
Because of their variance in color, it’s often difficult to count the little guys unless you can see them scurry about. Click on these two pictures to try your hand at finding all of them. All ten are in both of them:
|Hen||Confidia, the mother of 2012 Brood #4|
|Drake(s)||Mallard and Buff Orpington drakes present|
|DOB (estimate)||July 13|
|Pond Location||North end of the millpond. She moves them to inaccessible areas at dusk.|
|1st Meeting||July 15 at boardwalk near Grand River Avenue|
|Duckling Count||10 verified, July 15|
Confidia has large broods, 13 at the beginning of the 2012 season. She wasn’t named in 2010-11 but she is represented well in this blog if you search for ducklings in previous years.
Posts including this brood:
07/16/12 :: Confidia returns with ten ducklings
07/27/12 :: Ducklings in the dark