June 15, 2016

Mamma duck has learned to sit

If you have been following our adventures here on the farm for long, you know that it has been a constant learning process for us figuring out what our ducks are doing and what they need from us.  Bossy Pants, our adult female, has made various nests around the yard and filled them with eggs but never really gotten into incubating the eggs.  She would occasionally sit on her nests but not consistently enough to make anything happen.

Then we had our little experiment into letting a chicken hatch duck eggs.  One successful duckling came of that, our now large Cupcake, who continues to think of herself as a chicken.  

So we were torn when we discovered that mamma duck had made a new nest in the front of the house, under my hollyhocks.  What to do?  Do we collect the eggs or let her try again?

Initially we did collect the eggs but then something different happened: she started to sit, and sit, and sit.  She began to leave the nest for less and less time each day until she got to the point where she only left at night, when she would seek out the safety of the chicken coop with her male companion.  Then she made the full plunge and even started to sit on her eggs at night!  Who knows what made it happen, but mamma duck seemed to finally understand how to be a mamma!  

Needless to say, we stopped collecting eggs.  We have actually stopped even going near her because she has become very protective of her growing babies.  When you approach, she hisses quietly at you and puffs herself up to look bigger. 

She had to choose one the hottest spots in the yard!  It has been really bakingly hot and humid so I brought her a container of water and carefully set it down as close as I could get it then backed away slowly.

The only times she leaves the nest now seem to be very early in the morning - when she goes back to eat and drink in the chicken coop - and just before dark - when she gets up and paces in front of the nest to stretch her legs.  The other morning I snuck out while she was off eating and caught a glimpse inside the nest.  Looks like we may get a nice big bunch of ducklings if she really gets this done!

I watched her from afar yesterday afternoon while she used her bill and feet to gently turn each of the eggs.  What a marvel to get to witness.  I am so excited for babies.  

I so hope that she can get through this safely and bring a new generation of ducks to us here at Phillips Farm.

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