Buda: Banished duck king

June 2nd, 2016     1 comment     permalink

Buda roosts alone at the north end of the pond

Buda has been dethroned as an alpha-duck on the Brighton millpond. Pollux who took top honors and now it appears to be the Dixie/Darth tag team. They are chasing the new arrivals (George & Martha) out of the pond daily.

Buda has also separated from his long-time buddy Dexter who is wooing one of the pond’s ravishing hens. So Buda sits alone at the north end of the pond, but he still seeks female companionship. He swims down to where Franny once nested and looks for Calamity and Shine to no avail. Those domestic hens are currently missing. They may be on distant nests so I don’t consider them lost to the ages yet.

Buda's posture isn't looking too chipper lately

You can see Buda isn't preening his feathers wellBuda looks bedraggled these days. I took these shots on a rainy day. That may be why his feathers are soiled. Note how he isn’t preening himself well. Maybe he’s not feeling chipper or a touch of arthritis makes it painful to reach his tail feathers (left). Those aren’t plunked feathers around him (above). They are withered flowers from an Autumn Olive tree above him. He’s one of the oldest domestic ducks on the pond and has survived far beyond expectations. He’s been at the pond longer than I have, 7+ years.

The millpond’s biggest additions

October 9th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Sparkle had a mottled white chest and is a big duckSparkle (right), Shine, and Zoot were all hatched this year, but the more I see of them, the more I wonder if they were dumped at the pond as very young ducklings that quickly found foster hens who let them join their broods. They have some of the characteristics of Black Swedish ducks yet none of the domestic ducks on the pond are that breed.

The trio are twice the size of the Mallards and their conformation is quite different. They are full-sized adults now yet they will add a pound or two in the months ahead. Sparkle has a hint of iridescent green on its head which might indicate it’s a drake, but I can’t be sure until they get a little older.

All three of these birds are gregarious and will gladly eat out of your hand this fall and winter if they aren’t roaming the pond looking for things to eat.

CSI: Zoot isn’t Sugar Raye’s duckling

August 28th, 2015     0 comments     permalink

Sparkle (left) and Shine squawking on the sidewalk, their favorite activity

Zoot has the most distinctive feet on the millpondFrom the get-go, Sugar Raye’s family of ducklings had two that looked different from her other four. One of the pair perished days after hatching but the other not only flourished, it soon towered above the other in her brood.

Ducklings within the same brood can have different fathers so I assumed the dark oddball (now officially christened Zoot) was sired by either Dazzle or his son, Razzle. By the time it reached a month old, however, I noticed its unusual feet. Blotchy feet are a distinctive trait for Acona ducks and only one duck on the millpond has a known Acona lineage, the cad named Parfait who was the 2013 offspring of the late, great MooseTracks, an Acona drake who became a coyote meal in the winter of 2014.

Ain’t I smart figuring this all out? Oh, wait a minute. As the weeks passed, Sugar Raye’s blotchy-footed duckling kept growing! How could this be since both Sugar Raye and Parfait are on the small side? On August 16, Zoot was on the millpond sidewalk near Sparkle and Shine (top photo), Franny’s two abandoned ducklings who raised themselves. All three of the birds have similar profiles with green bills and white bibs. Although Zoot’s feet are the most unusual, the other two have slight orange patches on their webbings.

Zoot is slightly larger than the other two birds Sparkle has the most mottling on his/her chest Shine has a very prim white bib

There’s a chance Zoot was one of Franny’s lost ducklings. She managed to misplace 9 of her 11 within days of their hatching on June 14. That makes him two weeks younger than Sparkle and Shine yet he’s the largest. I think it’s more likely Franny dropped an early egg or two into Sugar Raye’s nest. Domestic ducks sometimes do that. Franny’s mothering instincts left her family tree several branches ago. The sex of these three ducks is still unknown but both Zoot and Sparkle sound like females. Hens have louder quacks than drakes. Both of these ducks are incessantly noisy, loud, and amusing to watch.

Meet Sparkle and Shine

August 6th, 2015     2 comments     permalink

Shine is on the left. I caught the bird at the moment it was lowering its head to preen its chest

A young millpond friend of mine suggested I name one of Franny’s two ducklings from her first brood (Brood 22) “Sparkle.” That’s a fine name so I told her I’ll named the other one “Shine” to easily remember them. Sparkle is the one with more white on its chest (above right). Sparkle is also shown at left while being photo bombed by Onyx in the foreground.

Sparkle is in the background and Onyx is in frontHatched on June 16, the two ducklings have raised themselves since they were about 25 days old. At 7 weeks, they are larger than any of the Mallards on the pond and still have a way to do before they reach adulthood. Their wings and flight feathers are still undeveloped, but it doesn’t matter. They will be land-bound birds with stout bodies.

Both squawk loudly so I think they are hens but can’t be certain until their adult plumage is grown. They are still timid with the rest of the flock and dodge being pecked by birds much smaller than they are, a skill they were forced to learn when as tiny ducklings. They will soon start to throw their weight around. Size matters in duck society and they will surely be two of the larger ducks at the millpond.

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