Come spring our devious ducks gang up on us to make hidden nests all around the garden. A true game of hide and seek at PumpjackPiddlewick

They’ve done it again. Spring is very definitely in the air amongst my feathered flock, and my devious ducks are ganging up on me.

Chickens vs Ducks

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. When I have multiple 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. 

Hidden Away

Each is well hidden from predators and consequently me. 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 I am usually able to find the nests.

I have had 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.

Attempting Control

I learned the art of leaving an egg behind the hard way. Initially, like you would with a chicken, I would take each egg as it was laid. But, as ducks take such time to make a hidden nest, if you 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 I always leave a marked egg or two (so I 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. There is always one duck that does the devious and manages to set up a nest without me knowing.  Typically the first realisation is when she doesn’t show up for evening mealy worms.

One of My Ducks is Missing

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 one of my females didn’t show 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, I’ve discovered, it is nigh on impossible to find them.

Playing Detective

The next morning I let the ducks out and watched where they headed. As expected one of the males headed straight to the nesting duck. 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, I 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.

There’s Always One

But then to add mischief to mayhem, a duck can get fed up with her nest not getting full of eggs. So although I may leave one or two, she reaches a point where this is not good enough. Then she may start laying two a day. This is a sign for me to stop taking eggs, as 2 eggs a day is tough on a little duck’s body and not worth the health risk. Or, she may decide the heck with it and one egg is good enough.

Last year it was Niege who got fed up and began brooding on her one egg. And so she sat, with lots of hissing if anyone came 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 I will have been outmanoeuvred, as I am each year. In about a months time, I will once again be seeing little balls of fluff running about. 

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

If you find my Duck 101 insights useful, or simply enjoy their stories, please consider nourishing my writings by joining me on Patreon.

More Duck Stuff

And should you be on the lookout for duck and other animal inspired gifts – you’ll find quite a few in my shops:

Simply click on an image to see more.


No Comments

  1. Awww, so devious. Little balls of fluff running around.. that will be lovely!

  2. Author

    And at opposite ends of the garden. Anticipating waddling mayhem 🙂

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