And now we enter the phase of nesting ducks.
Somehow it seems appropriate that with Easter comes nesting ducks. We can definitely see why ducks (and chickens) and eggs have become synonymous.
We went from our duck difficulties of finding a mate in February to brooding ducks in March. Nesting ducks can occur any time thereafter, but is essentially linked to the weather. As soon as the warm spring weather arrives, Maggie, always first, starts sitting.
We discovered that the nesting instinct is linked to temperature when Maggie used to live all the time indoors. And we had heating. Her first year of nesting, she had 3 nests. Two nesting phases is not uncommon, especially if they have ducklings early in spring. There is always a chance of a second nest in summer.
Because of the heating being on in our previous cottage, Maggie ended up having a third nest in October, and started on a fourth again in January. Though by then we had figured it out and she spent more time outdoors which quelled the need to lay eggs and brood.
Nesting ducks brings a new phase of ‘how to deal with your duck’. It’s all change again. We go from funny, flirty Maggie before nesting to bad-ass hormonal Maggie when nesting. Even Beepbeep, normally of the more even temperament, turns into a mild version of duckzilla.
But then so would you if you had to sit in one place for 23 ½ hours. Then you come off your nest at height of the days temperatures to stuff your face as fast as you can, then bathe, wetting your belly feathers in readiness to sit again. (The wet feathers are to create humidity in the nest, which aids in the incubation process.)
Full on nesting lasts 28 days, from the first day of 23.5 hours of sitting. Our Maggie is about half way through her nesting period, ducklings are due around the 23rd April. Beepbeep has not yet gone into the phase of 24/7. She is sitting on her nest longer and longer each time she lays an egg, which will eventually turn into full time. It’s a matter of days now when both girls will be nesting ducks.
And what about the boys? The ‘mates’ will guard the nest, though less and less as the time wears on. They sit nearby making a certain quiet ‘pwaahhp’ sound to let the girls know they are there. Even if they wander away to stretch their legs or bathe, they will make this sound to continue the connection.
Once though the girls have their binge moment and return to the nest, this is the call for all boys to sidle up to the bar together and swap husband stories. Honest. It really is like that. Late afternoon, we will see our boys gather and they all talk at once, not letting the other get a word in edgewise. Truly, we can just imagine the bar, the beers and the ‘my wife is so hormonal stories…’
But we are not quite, quite there yet. Beepbeep still hasn’t fully nested. So that means she is in her uber attractive stage (think that new mom glow phase) to the other males. And bless our Sir Studly, gentleman by nature but he is no match for George’s Rocky Bilboa strength. So we have to be super careful about making sure that George, and Louis, can’t get to Beepbeep at this time.
This involves a lot of dividers and doors. We have a divider in the duck bedroom. We have a divider in the duck enclosure. And doors on both, as well as the barn. Maggie, with primary mate George is nesting in the duck bedroom. Beepbeep, with Studly, is nesting in the duck enclosure. Louis runs between the two.
Louis has stopped turfing Maggie off her nest for a bit of x-rated fun now that she is fully nesting. (Yeah!) But with Beepbeep, if he were allowed near her… well let’s remember she is uber sexy right now. So we close off one section of the duck enclosure and Louis can visit from afar. Or, as Louis is super cuddly in his boredom, he and I have a snuggle and he can look over and lust at Beeps.
An interesting and unusual phenomena has occurred with George and Louis. George, as primary mate, stays most of the time with Maggie. But a few times during the day, when Louis gets super bored, he goes and relieves George of his duty. Louis will take up the stance of protector, whilst George stretches his wings, literally, and flies down the garden. And then goes in search of ways to get to Beepbeep. Sigh.
Little did I know when we put up the protective bird netting over the top of the duck enclosure that it would also be used to stop George from getting to Beepbeep. At least once every couple of days George flies up, and in, only to land on the netting. It always brings on laughter as everyone looks so surprised and he just stands there, sort of in mid-air, until I come and rescue him.
I will say, with all these spring antics, that I am glad I have an excuse to work and be in the garden. Nesting ducks time is always fraught with chaos and laughter. And in two weeks time it will be all change again as we add in ducklings.