They’ve done it again. Spring is very definitely in the air amongst our feathered flock, and our devious ducks are ganging up on us.
When it comes to the difference between chickens, ducks and laying eggs, they are worlds apart. Except for the egg result. Chickens lay an egg essentially daily and we take their eggs without much fear of zany nesting antics. Ducks on the other hand, they are a mission unto themselves.
Unlike chickens, the ducks are not as keen to lay eggs in the same nesting box, each preferring to have their own nest. Since we have 5 females this has led to multiple nests dotted about the duck enclosure and in the garden. Sometimes they will start a nest and abandon it for another, better space.
Each is well hidden from predators and consequently us. Luckily the ducks give themselves away every time, mainly by clustering together protectively near the laying duck and then quacking a lot (go figure), so we have been able to find the nests.
We have both mallards and call or white ducks. The white ducks are certainly easier to generally find since they don’t blend in so well with the foliage. But saying that they can still be quite tricky to find if you don’t look carefully enough. As for the mallards, you can forget finding if they aren’t given away.
We learned the art of leaving an egg behind the hard way. Initially, like you would with a chicken, we would take each egg as it was laid. But, as ducks take such time to make a hidden nest, if we take all or the last egg from a nest it signals predator to them. They then abandon that nest and set up a new one elsewhere a day or two later. Now we always leave a marked egg or two (so we know the fresh eggs to take) and that has kept the nests in the same location.
However, there is always the one that got away. This year it was Margot, our youngest female. She did the devious and managed to set up a nest without us knowing. Our first realisation was when she didn’t show up for bedtime the other night.
Normally the ducks collect in the duck enclosure come dusk. They know they get a treat of mealy worms before bedtime. But also they know that the enclosure is a safe night space.
The other night only four of our females showed up for roll call. No amount of searching, particularly in failing light, turned her up. But then, when a duck doesn’t want to be seen, we’ve discovered, it is nigh on impossible to find them.
The next morning we let the ducks out and watched where they headed. As expected one of the males headed straight to Margot. He stood around, near her nest, having a nice gossip, and thus the game was given away. She had made herself a beautiful nest under trailing ivy. Sadly because this nest area was not safe for her, we had to take all the eggs. She went back to check it out later that day, but never returned to that nest. Now she has set herself up a nest behind the water butts in the enclosure. Much safer.
But then to add mischief to mayhem, the duck will get fed up with her nest not getting full of eggs. She may start laying two a day. This is a sign for us to stop taking eggs. Or, she may decide the heck with it and one egg is good enough.
This year it’s been Niege who got fed up and began brooding on her one egg. And so she sits, with lots of hissing if anyone comes near. This has happened before, when a duck realises you are taking their eggs. So they sit on the one egg to protect it being taken too. And then lay an egg a day until they go into a full brood. Yup, smart, devious ducks.
So as we have been outmanoeuvred, as we are each year. In about a months time, we will once again be seeing little balls of fluff running about. Anyone interested in enjoying their own personal duck antics, drop us a comment as we’ll be looking for new homes for any new devious little creatures.
More Duck Stuff
And should you be on the lookout for duck and other animal inspired gifts – you’ll find quite a few in our shops.
More Duck Tails around brooding and nesting:
Read about other past nests in: Nesting Ducks
More being ganged up on tails: Ducks are Devious-ly Clever
All about brooding Ducks: Dealing with Brooding Ducks
And dealing with an imprinted ducks’ brood: The Dramas of a Brooding Pet Duck
And should you need to know how to break a brood: Breaking a Brood