Sunday, May 15, 2016

Wild Duckies

Last year we raised ducks (Daddy's Duckies 2015). As the three birds tested their wings at the end of the summer ... they flew away. We wondered if they would return (they had been spoiled with yummy treats, food and a pool), but we didn't see them again.

Spring of 2016, there was a pair of ducks hanging around. Now that's not unusual at all, at the canal, but we're about a quarter mile away. This pair was in the front yard (our home and a couple of the neighbors). I pulled out some of the feed from last year, and they seemed to like that. I filled up the pool in the back yard ... and they seemed to like that too. They'd stay for a couple hours each day. Eat some food, take a swim, then they would fly away to spend their time somewhere else. We wondered if it was one of OUR ducks from last year, coming "home" to roost.

One morning in early spring, I was sitting at the computer with the blinds open to the backyard when I saw Momma duck and 13 babies! THIRTEEN! They were so fun to watch. They would swim, eat, and gather under Momma ...

... even as they got a little bigger, Momma would still snuggle and shelter them. 

They would wander a bit. We'd come out in the morning and they would be gone. The first couple times, they had only made it to the next door neighbor's yard. Stopped at the window well, as a couple babies had fallen in. Keaton climbed down and rescued them (as I tried to protect HIM from Momma, being protective didn't understand we were trying to help). 

She was a very good Momma!

Swim Time!
This is the view right outside my bedroom window.

A post shared by JenB (@jenblackham) on

It was mostly in the mornings when they would wander, although sometimes at dusk too. 
But then Momma would bring them back to the backyard.

One time though ... only 12 babies came back. The boys and I did a search of all the nearby window wells. Tried to listen for the chirp of a lost baby, but no luck. We have no idea what happened to it. If it got taken by a dog or cat, or there is a fairly open gutter grate that a baby could have easily fallen into. We were so sad!

Another time, around 4:00 in the morning Hubs and I were awakened by a commotion. Frantic quacking by Momma Duck. We ran out back in our PJs ... it was a cat! We chased it off. Momma had jumped into the safety of the pool, but there were only three babies with her! We knew that cat couldn't have made off with nine babies, so we got out flashlights and searched the yard and found them huddled in a far corner. Happily, all nine. We reunited them with Momma. One of the babies did look like it had been hurt. It walked with a limp for a while, but finally seemed to work it out.

One time I was watching the ducks out the window when ... Momma flew away! Ummm, Momma? You coming back? She did. I guess she just needed to stretch her wings. Then it happened pretty much every day. I then noticed that most of the time ... the Mr. had flown over calling to her. She would take off and join him for some big circles in the sky before she'd fly back into the backyard. The babies would just stay huddled together while she was gone (and we'd always try to keep an eye on them if we noticed she was gone. Chase off any magpies or other dangers). 

Then one morning ... the duckies were gone and they did NOT come back. I took several walks to the canal that day and the next, hoping to see that they had made it there safely. I was rewarded on one of my trips! There was Momma and her full dozen ducklings (while there are other momma/baby sets at the canal, in all the years we've been here, we've never seen a momma with a dozen ducklings, so we were pretty certain it was "our" family). 

I really thought I'd make more trips to the canal to check on them, but we had our own duckies in the backyard (ones we had hatched and were raising) so I was getting my ducky fix without the walk. At the end of the season, the boys and I were talking a walk along the canal when we saw a big group of ducks.

It looked like it could have been our wild backyard babies. Seemed to be a momma and quite a few babies, bigger now, but about the right size, allowing for growth in the time that had passed.

2016 will be remembered as the summer of the ducklings! 
We're glad you stayed with us for a while.

(stay tuned for a post about OUR babies!)

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