The new duck family (Indian Runner mom, Pekin dad, and 9 mixed ducklings) have been here for 2 weeks and are doing well. They were initially living in a tractor with a coop inside, but we recently started letting them free range during the day with the flock of chickens and Muscovies. So far, everyone seems to be getting along.
Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing at first. Joséphine (mom) is astoundingly protective and completely fearless. She’s just a little thing – in fact, her babies are nearly as large as she is now – but she goes crazy if she thinks her babies are being threatened. She executed a couple of Black Belt Theater-worthy flying sidekicks on unsuspecting Muscovies the first day the group was out in population. The amped-up girl charges even big drakes (and those guys are about 3x her size). Fortunately, the scovies are mellow and just jump out of tiger mom’s way with a bewildered expression. She also tried to take on the flock rooster, big boy Fache, and he wasn’t having any of that – he retaliated, trying his own fancy kicks on her. No one was hurt, and both resumed foraging after the brief altercation. The animals generally sort these issues out themselves.
While it’s entertaining to watch her flip out on the other ducks, it’s less amusing when we’re the targets of her ire…like when we have to catch her. She’s a real handful, and we have been slapped silly by her wings a few times. She also bites but, fortunately for us, ducks don’t have teeth. When she launches herself at you, though, look out! That girl is tightly wound.
On the other hand, Bob (dad) is a very mellow, easygoing fellow. He loves the water and would probably stay in a pool all day if he could. He goes into the main duck coop at night but rejoins the family when we let Joséphine and the ducklings out to forage. He’s also protective of the ducklings, and it’s refreshing to see him help Joséphine keep an eye on the rapidly-growing ducklings.
The duck family travels in a pack and the ducklings look like little soldiers running in double time after Mom. Bob often has to run to catch up with fast-moving Joséphine and her troop. Now that they’ve been free ranging, they mingle more with the other birds and are growing comfortable being part of the larger flock. They also know to come running when they see us with treats, so they get their share of goodies like seeds and scratch. It’s fun to listen to their happy sounds as they find seeds in the grass.
Soon, the ducklings’ fuzz will be replaced by feathers…what will they look like then? Check back to find out!