It’s that time of year – the ducks have been laying lots of eggs, and when they’ve laid a clutch, they want to try to hatch them (and they’re exceptionally good at it). When one goes broody, and interesting phenomenon occurs: the broodiness seems to be contagious. So what happens when several ducks go broody and they all want the same nest box? They sardine into it. Never mind that there are other boxes, just as nice, that are available. They want that one special box.
That’s right: three ducks crammed themselves into a single nest box. Our nest boxes are jumbo hooded cat litter pans, normally very roomy for a single occupant. It’s even comfortable for two ducks, should they decide to be roommates. But three is pushing it – see how they’re stacked?
These are girls are very protective, and while duck “bites” are usually harmless nibbles, a couple of these girls will latch on like your arm is a snake and they’re trying to kill it. I’ve been pretty severely pinched trying to check under them to make sure no eggs are there (Kevlar protective sleeves, anyone?). It’s not fun when they leave marks.
While we understand that going broody is natural for our ducks, we don’t want them to hatch eggs right now, so we’ve been making them get out of the nest box to eat (and forage), drink, and bathe. They’re not happy about it, and they employ other defensive measures besides the biting. What we didn’t capture a photo of was that, while we were preparing to move the girls out of the nest box, one of the poor ducks was actually pooped on by another – and it was a smelly, downright unpleasant broody poop. These excretions look like liquid concrete with a slight greenish hue, and the smell is terrible. Fortunately, we had a bottle of water on hand to splash on the poor girl, and the pools were awaiting her. And you think you’ve had bad roommates..!
There are, reportedly, a number of ways to “break” a duck of her broodiness, but we’ve found Muscovies to be incredibly determined when they’re broody, so we just let them sit on empty nests until they decide to stop (and it can take a long time). In the meantime, if we decide we don’t want to incubate eggs, the girls are ready and willing to tenderly care for the eggs until they hatch. No incubator? Get a broody Muscovy duck!