August 16th, 2012 permalink
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).
July 29th, 2012 permalink
The next night, there is no evidence of the previous night’s turmoil described in the earlier post. The hen is calm, away from the crowd, while her brood (26 in the 2012 Fertility Tournament) is relaxed and ready to sleep through the night on the embankment near the Brighton gazebo. Hens often stand on the sidewalk above their young to watch over them (left). Even on relatively warm nights, ducklings cuddle together to stay warm when they are very young (center), and the hen helps preserve their body heat by lowering and spreading her wings around them like a blanket. There are seven surviving ducklings in this clutch. One of them can barely be seen in the middle of the downy mass in the center photo.
July 29th, 2012 permalink
Hell hath no fury like a mother hen when protecting her ducklings. Ducks around her soon learn to keep their distance because they don’t want to get bitten or have feathers plucked from their bodies. Above, a 2-3 month old duckling (left) is unaware he is near babies until the hen charges him and bites his flank as her own duckling scurries to get out of the way.
Later, a hen with four ducklings comes into the territory of the same hen (Brood 26) and the two have a prolonged battle for that particular space. What begins with biting each other’s necks (above left) as Brood 26 watch soon escalates into a wild bout with wings flapping and feathers flying in all directions (below left).
It ends when the invading hen flees (below) to escape the furious biting and Brood 26′s hen does a victory dance (above right).
July 21st, 2012 permalink
Brood 26 appeared on the Brighton millpond embankment on July 20th after dark. It’s been quite a week for hatchings. So far, we’ve had 26 ducklings join the other hundred-plus born this season.
Their mom is very relaxed and allows park visitors to come close without getting stressed. I sense she’s a veteran hen since she’s well groomed and calm (below). I offered her duck chow and she was ravenous! She hopped up on the sidewalk to snarf it down. I’ve noticed hens with newly hatched babies are usually famished. I imagine they don’t get a chance to eat much as their eggs hatch and they have a troupe of newborns to tend.
She’s protective of the little ones. While I was watching, she vigorous chased away adult ducks who got within 6 feet of them.
A couple of the ducklings are a bit lighter in color than the rest. We’ll have a better indication of their adult plumage once their juvenile feathers grow in. Features like neckbands don’t seem to show up until then.
July 20th, 2012 permalink
||Typical Mallard Hen, no distinctive markings
||Near the Imagination Station
||8 verified, July 20
July 20: The hen appeared on the embankment near the Imagination Station well after dark. She wasn’t there earlier when I checked for new broods. She not easily stressed by humans, but adult ducks near her babies sends her into action with chases, bitings, and lots of splashes.
Posts including this brood:
07/21/12 :: Mid-July: A baby boom
07/29/12 :: War …
07/29/12 :: … and Peace