The adult Muscovies have been lodging in the chicken coop for the past couple of weeks. It’s amazing that they knew it was time to leave the small coop to Phoebe, who only has a week to go until hatch day; one evening, we went to round everyone up and we discovered that the adults had all just moved into the chicken coop. Clever creatures. Phoebe’s in the “grumpy broody” phase, and they must have known it was coming.
With the adults and the two groups of growing juveniles, it was time for the ducks to have a place of their own. The chickens didn’t like the ducks in “their” coop, either – the chickens were reluctant to jump down from the roost with the ducks on the floor, circling like sharks. Fortunately, skirmishes were limited to occasional feather-pulling when a duck grabbed at an unlucky (or inattentive) chicken.
It’s been a long road in getting the duck coop completed: days of mercilessly hot weather, thunderstorms, multiple trips to home improvement stores (including a trip to a city more than a hour away and visits to three different locations of a certain home improvement store to find 10′ long metal roofing panels), a new cordless screwdriver that worked so poorly (despite being a very reputable brand) that we had to exchange it once and then finally return it for a different brand…just a few selected highlights. In the end, those were really just annoying bumps in the road – the coop is finished and the occupants have moved in!
Last night was the first night the ducks spent in the coop, and the first time they had all been in such close proximity for an extended period of time. We started by putting the youngest in first, followed by Coraline’s group, then the adults. Welding gloves were worn to avoid being shredded by these tree ducks’ sharp claws. We initially had concerns about whether the older ducks would pick on the younger ones, but everyone seemed to be more bewildered by their new surroundings than anything else. The two groups of ducklings even huddled together for comfort.
This morning, we peeked in on the ducks and all was quiet. When we opened the pop door, it took a minute before the adults came out, followed by Coraline’s ducklings, and, finally, the younger ducklings. The younger group has never used a ramp, so were unsure about it. A couple fell off. They’ll get the hang of it, though. Only two stayed in the coop: Elliott, who doesn’t see well, and a duck friend. Since “Elli” is visually impaired, he likely didn’t know how to exit the coop, and his friend stayed with him for moral support. After we lifted Elli out, the duck came down the ramp without hesitation. We think Elli will, as he has with other settings, be able to use the ramp once he’s memorized the coop’s layout.
The ducks seem to be settling right in. We found a nice clean egg in a nest box (a duck had been pooping in one of the chicken nest boxes – messy), so that setup has apparently been deemed satisfactory. Now, the ducks just need to recognize the new place as home and go in by themselves at night…it’s much too hot to chase them around, and they’re wily!