Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mama Duck of the Year Award

I've mentioned that we've had a female Muscovy duck sitting on a clutch of eggs in an out-of-the-way spot in the chicken house for a while now.

Several days ago she hatched out a little peeper.  A little chicken-type peeper.  Well, when you make your nest in the chicken house, these kinds of things can happen.

Chicken eggs take 28 days to incubate, duck eggs 35.  We were concerned that after this one little chick emerged, Mama Duck would abandon her nest as birds will do shortly after they have a live hatch, and no more appear within a day or so.

But dear, determined Mama Duck (muttering "my work here is not done") just kept on sitting with her one little chick, and a bunch of eggs, under her.  Then two days ago, we spied another little fuzzy body.  Another chick.  Oh, dear.

Early this afternoon our daughter was walking through the poultry yard when she heard a cacophony of distressed peeping and chirping sounds.  She first looked in the chicken solarium and saw Mama Duck.  Quickly dashing around to the back of the chicken house, she peered in to see . . . ELEVEN little ducklings and the two chicks scampering around the chicken house floor yelling for their mom.  Then Mama Duck dashed back in to her nest area and gathered her brood under her.


Dear daughter ran to get her camera and was able to get only this picture.  (Do you see the little duckling head sticking up in back?)

Mama Duck asks that you forgive her disheveled appearance.  She's had a long and rough several weeks getting this multi-cultural batch of eggs to hatch.

More pictures as soon as we can get them.

22 comments:

Vicki said...

That is one determined mama duck! Looking forward to more pictures.

Michelle said...

She should definitely win an award! One question: will you need to remove the chicks so she doesn't try to teach them how to swim?

Mama Pea said...

Vicki - I'm looking forward to seeing Mama Duck waddling around the poultry pasture with her brood of eleven ducklings and two chicks following behind!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - This is a dilemma that has already crossed our minds! I remember reading of a chicken who hatched out a clutch of ducklings and got absolutely frantic when her babies walked into the pond and went swimming for the first time. I'm not sure how we'll handle our situation. Do you think the chicks would follow the ducklings into the pond?

Michelle said...

Imprinting is a powerful bond – I'd certainly be afraid that they'd try to follow "mama."

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - You're probably right. I'm thinking the plan will be . . . as soon as we can get Mama and her brood out of the chicken house, we'll put them all in a chicken tractor type affair where they'll be contained and won't have access to the pond. (But what's the plan when we DO let them out into the pasture and pond area? Gulp.)

Kristina said...

How exciting!

Mama Pea said...

istina - Especially since this duck is just one year old and supposedly they aren't prone to sit on a clutch until they are two or so!

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Interesting, sounds to me mama duck is going to be totally surprised when it's time to teach her chicks to swim. You have your hands full!!!

Hugs,
Sandy

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea :)) I'm so happy it turned out a success! :)) I can't wait to see more photos! What do you do now? Is it just a matter of Mama taking care of them or do you have to intervene? Another question...if we don't have a pond in the future, would it be a bad idea to have ducks?

Sue said...

Sweet wondrous nature!! Your gal DOES deserve that Mother of the Year award. Should be interesting to see the family out and about.
And what will the chick do at swim time?????
Can't wait.
Congrats!

Susan said...

Look at her! What a gal! You should be able to separate the two chicklets - seeing as she will have her hands/wings full with all those adorable ducklings!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

What a fantastic story! Way to go Mama Duck!! :)

Dianna

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Maybe she'll have the two chicks hitch a ride on her back? ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Rain - I know a lot of people don't do it this way, but we believe having a mama animal (or bird) raise their own makes for much healthier offspring but this particular situation does raise some questions. Who's going to teach the chicks to be . . . well, chickens? They really need a hen to teach them what every little chick needs to know! The mother duck will nurture them, keep them warm and safe (well, except if they escape the nest and chicken house by themselves!), but will raise them just like a duck.

Many people raise ducks without a pond and I'm sure they do very well. But you must provide adequate water for them as they need it to clean their nostrils. I know that sounds funny, but when ducks eat they use their bills as kind of a shovel and their nostrils (on top of the beaks) get dirt, grit, dust and grime in them. That's why ducks make such a mess around water. They need to get a good part of their heads in water in order to cleanse their beaks and nostrils out regularly. They shake their wet heads in the process and throw water everywhere!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - We need you to arrive at the appropriate time to play with the chicks on the shore while Mama Duck teaches her ducklings how to swim. ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Susan - You know where I can find a surrogate hen who would be willing to take over the raising of the chicks? That's what I'm wondering about.

Mama Pea said...

Dianna - She seems to be such a good mother. As far as we're concerned, she's earned a permanent spot on this little homestead!

Rain said...

See, I didn't know that. I thought they mostly "dunked" their heads and splashed all around to either fish or just cool off! Thank you for that really good information.

I think it's kind of neat that the little chicks will likely be raised by a mama duck! :)

Laurie said...

Well mama duck is excused...13 yougins is a lot to handle. Lol! I know you're having a ball with all these babies being born.

Laurie said...

Well...I should have said hatched. 😬

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - Born, hatched, popped out . . . we all know what you mean! We've still got two geese that have been dedicated mamas-to-be so that will be exciting, too!