Sunday, June 8, 2008

Two Ducklings Gone, Four More Arrive

A few days ago after a discussion with Hal it was decided to let the ducklings and momma out for good. I won't go into the reasons, suffice to say they had to leave. The 4 adults were up at the garage at the time and seemed quite expectant when I opened the garage door, in fact here are the 2 "wannabe baby killers" right outside the door.

However, upon seeing the size of the ducklings they had tried to annihilate a mere 2 weeks before, the big ducks turned tail and ran away. Since then, other than a few squabbles over food the 2 groups have kept to themselves.

Unfortunately, that night the 2 brown ducklings disappeared. There were no bodies, no signs of what happened so I suspect owls or raccoons. Probably owls. They were the purebred rouens, one the largest and the other the smallest. I have tried to get momma and the ducklings in at night but they refuse. So far the rest have survived. I have my fingers crossed that they will make it but I harbor no illusions. Next time the ducklings will be larger before I let them outside, whatever "good" reasons there are for early release.

This morning momma duck actually brought the kids up to the garage for breakfast. I managed to snap a good photo of the survivors.

On a happier note, I finally got my 4 Muscovy ducklings from the local Quaker farm. I picked them up bright and early Saturday morning from the owners. They were probably about a week old, I can't remember the exact date she said they hatched, but it happened while I was in Massachusetts, so sometime around May 31/June1. I was amazed how similar their coloring was to young rouens, 3 especially seemed to have similar brown markings but where the rouens are grayish, these are yellow.

At first we placed them in a small box but decided that would hold them about a day, they are incredible jumpers, so we had a mini brainstorm and pulled out Rocket's old wire crate. I covered it in newspaper to keep them from escaping between the bars and covered the floor with straw. It is quite a large space and should do well for them for at least the first 30-45 days. After that, we'll have to see what we can do. They are supposed to be excellent bug eaters and good mothers. I hope to get one good breeding pair out of the batch.

Breaking News

As I was getting ready to publish this post I saw the ducklings following the WBKs up to the garage to eat supper. I took some lettuce down to them and somehow, without too much difficulty, managed to chase momma and kids into the garage and shut the door. Now there isn't a pen for them anymore, there are 20 Cornish crosses living in it now, but I tossed straw onto the floor, gave them water and food and though momma is squealing to be let out, I think I'll feel a little better if I can get another few days growth on them before letting them back outside. At least they can stay till Hal returns from his hunting camp later this week.

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