Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Make Way For Ducklings

On Saturday, Richard remarked, "Is that a duck sitting on your chimney?" I looked over to the abandoned blacksmith shop, that sits at the front of my house, along the busy road, and sure enough, there was a crazy duck up there. I grabbed my binoculars and identified it as a female wood duck.

Sunday I checked and no duck. On Monday, there was lots of planting to do. I was in the back vegetable garden, planting over 100 leeks (!) and returned to the front to plant my rosemary. Then I remembered to look for Mrs. Duck. Just as I turned around, I saw a little head pop up. I thought it was awfully small for a grown duck. Then I realized it was a duckling and right then it jumped off the chimney (about 30 ft. up), rolled on the tin roof and hit the ground running! I immediately called my friend Peggi (who is as much of a nature-nut as I am) and she came screaming down the road. Before she got here, ducklings #2 and #3 took the dive. Unbelievable. They were running around the ground, making a racket, peeping their lungs out. I didn't want to get in nature's way, but at the same time, I didn't want them flattened by an oncoming car. They seemed to disappear into the woods (hopefully, Mama was there).

Peggi arrived and we stayed in the shadows, away from the action, to see if there would be any more ducklings. Sure enough about 15 minutes later, another one took the dive, except this time the little guy fell on the north side of the roof...that's the traffic side. Peggi rounded him up and brought him to the side where the others had landed. He marched around, peeping, and ended up going back to where he landed and walked right across the road to the pond.

Numbers 5 and 6 both landed on that side too and also wanted to go that way, so Peggi carried them both across the road and they both plopped right into the pond. So three little orphans were swimming in the pond across the road from me.

I felt pretty bad about possibly interrupting something. Apparently wood duck mothers can lead their babies from their nests to water that can be as far as 2 kilometres away! But by the time 4, 5 and 6 had jumped, there was no noise, no peeping from anyone.

I checked the pond a few hours later and couldn't believe it, but there were now 4 little babies swimming around. Likely a late hatchling that crossed the road (!) on his own to find his family.

I wrote a friend of mine who is very knowledgeable about birds and he said that the mother wood duck broods them the first little while to keep them warm but otherwise they can fend for themselves. Fingers crossed that they made it through the night.

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