Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Lonely Drake

They both came, that first time and startled me!

Ducks in my yard?

I live in a suburban cul de sac.  No water in sight.

Lots of cement, barking dogs, cats, cars charging around, going too fast....but ducks?

Granted, ducks are big here in town.  It's not uncommon to see them begging in busy parking lots, or businesses with bowls out, labeled "duck water".

We have one rather short bike/pedestrian path in town, along side a canal, which is heavy in ducks as is the pathway.  I don't even bother walking it.  Too much duck shit.

We have some man made rather algae filled smelly lakes too.  They are too warm for trout but get stocked with them anyway, with hatchery fish.  And there are oodles of ducks on them and near them.

But ducks on a cul de sac?  And what they'd do, follow me here?

But there they were one evening, startling me, as I went out to my car.  A hen and a drake.  He seemed proud to have found a food source for her.  They were guzzling scattered bird seed, best they could with their bills designed for slurping the bottoms of ponds.

He eyed me expectantly.  She eyed me with suspicion.

I had a few pieces of bread.  I am not a bread eater so rarely have any in the house.  I dipped the pieces in water, because I could not imagine a duck eating dry bread, and tossed the soggy pieces out to the pair, who gobbled them.

They began arriving together promptly at 7:00 p.m.   I would watch the cats to know when they'd come.  The cats watched out the window and signaled the ducks' arrival with increased interest, lining up and jostling at the windows for position to see.

And so it began.

But things changed.  The hen began arriving alone at 7:00 p.m. while the drake would come in the mornings, then wander, looking lost, to the sidewalk, and wait there, like he had lost her somehow and was hoping she would come so he could reconnect.  He stays an hour or so, then flies off, to the northeast, as does she, in the evening.

Did she kick him from the nest?  Did they have a spat, or just get separated and can't find each other again?

Doesn't seem to bother her like it bothers him.  She doesn't moon around when she comes.  She likes the bird seed, which I pile for her so she can better scoop it up.  He likes junk food, the bread, and won't touch the corn or seed.

Maybe their differences are too great.  I suppose even ducks have their problems.

They seemed happy enough at first.

Come back tonight, I wanted to tell him if I only knew his language, she'll be here then.

The Lonely Drake this morning


Update on Mallard breeding. He's on his own, once the female lays her eggs. Here's this about mallards from wikipedia:


"Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November in the Northern hemisphere) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring, at which time she is left by the male who joins up with other males to await the moulting period which begins in June (in the Northern hemisphere). During the brief time before this, however, the males are still sexually potent and some of them either remain on standby to sire replacement clutches (for female Mallards that have lost or abandoned their previous clutch) or forcibly mate with females that appear to be isolated or unattached regardless of their species and whether or not they have a brood of ducklings."

As in many species, the male has only one contribution to species continuation---sperm.  The female harbors and develops the eggs in her body, lays them, protects them best she can while also trying to feed herself and feeds her young, once hatched.   Males contribute nothing but sperm.

13 comments :

  1. How fascinating! I adore ducks. Except for their poo, of course. ~grin~ In our area, Canada geese are way more of a problem in that department. In fact, there is a herding dog at a local arboretum who is trained to chase geese and not the ducks. His name is Zip. Be well!

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    1. Duck poo, geese poo, not cool, not fun, not glamorous at all. We have lots of Canada Geese in the area, but they don't so much alight in town.

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  2. I wonder if the pair for longer the than it takes to breed? A duckologist is required.

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  3. I read that most ducks mate only for the mating season. It sounds like she got what she wanted from him and is done. I wish you could follow them and find out the rest of the story. In the meantime, I found it very interesting to hear the part you know about.

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    1. I wasn't sure if mallards were that sort or the mate for life sort, will look it up, imagine you are right.

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  4. They might be taking turns sitting on eggs. It's that time of year.

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    1. I wondered about that.

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  5. I love the picture of the duck in the long shadows. I'm always a great admirer of your photos,

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    1. Thank you, Snow, been a lot harder lately, as my bigger camera broke. The little tiny one is hard to hold, because it is so small.

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    2. I've gotten too shaky to take photos.

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    3. Oh no, that's not good. Did your doctor figure out a reason?

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    4. We only have a small camera, so combine that with the shakiness that comes to pretty much everyone with age, and you can see my problem. I have asked my internist about it, but he didn't seem concerned, so I don't plan to pursue the matter. My father had a bad tremor that made it necessary for me to do such tasks as painting trim when he I worked together, but his shakiness started when he was middle aged. When I was a boy, he was forever coming out of the bathroom with two or three pieces of toilet stuck on his face from where he had cut himself shaving. If he had lived earlier and had to use a straight edge instead of safety razor. I have no idea how he would have been able to shave at all.

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    5. Oh my, yes, a straight edge would have been killer for him. My camera is great in that it fits easily in my purse, but at 2"x3", it's a little tough to work with sometimes. Buttons are small too.

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