Hooters Hall

The perils of being a duckling

The ducklings have been with us just over a week now and it has been quite a perilous week for them, with the majority not making it.

Out of 12 fertile eggs 10 hatched successfully. The other 2 seemed to have died halfway through hatching. The first night 3 of the ducklings  got stuck in the reeds on the pond and so were unable to get back to the nest. I’m guessing it was too cold at night for them on their own and we found them the next morning in the reeds.

That left 7 ducklings which was quickly whittled down to 5 because the mummy duck accidentally stood on two of them. She is a first time mum and did seem to be struggling a bit keeping track of her brood. We then lost another 2 ducklings in mysterious circumstances on consecutive days. One minute they were there then they were gone. There was no body or remains, no signs of a struggle. We think perhaps an aerial predator took them, a bird of prey or perhaps a magpie or some other feathered fiend.

Being down to 3 ducklings I did worry that we would soon have none left and we discussed whether to take them away from the adult ducks to raise inside. We decided not to. Mainly because we had always planned on the ducks being totally free ranging and pretty much self sufficient, just getting on with it as nature intended. Having made that choice it seemed a bit of a cop out to then change our approach simply because we didn’t like the course nature was taking.

Happily things seemed to have taken a turn for the better. The adult ducks seem better able to cope with just 3 ducklings. They have started  herding the ducklings into the floating duck house when there are any unexpected noises or anything that might indicate an intruder and are a lot more attentive to  ducklings. So hopefully we’ll have no more duckling disasters and next time mum and dad will be more experienced and able to cope with a larger brood.

Our surviving 3 ducklings might also be joined by some half brothers and sisters in the near future as well. Our other adult female duck has now decided to sit on a nest of eggs and she’s taking it very seriously rarely leaving the nest. Fingers crossed she’ll be successful and the other duck and drake will pass on their new found experience.

Here’s a few pictures and video of the little family. Mummy duck is the one on the floating duck house at the start and Daddy duck is on guard duty at the side of the pond.

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