Thursday, March 26, 2009

DUCK EGGS! (aka return of the crazy duck lady)

There is big news at our house today! The duck eggs have returned!

If you remember from previous posts, we had a mama duck lay eggs in our yard last spring and then we had four baby ducklings for a while. There is almost nothing I love more in the world than animals, especially baby animals. I sat out with that mama duck every day for a month while she sat on those eggs last year. She got to the point where she was very comfortable with me and would let me feed her and occasionally even pet her. I bought her duck food, I put out great big Tupperware containers of water for her to splash in and I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of those ducks last spring.

Eventually the babies got old enough and the mama decided that it was time to take them somewhere else and one day they disappeared. Ducks tend to return to the same place each year, so I have been waiting all year to see if any of them would come back.

I posted a few weeks ago that a pair of ducks showed up in our yard, which happens every spring, but I never know if they're the same two ducks. We've been getting a pair of ducks in our yard every single spring since we moved here. But surely they're not the same two ducks, right? I didn't think so.

Today at least, I'm positive that the two ducks in our yard now are the same two from last year because our duck eggs are back!

The spot where the duck laid her eggs last year is in the landscaping on the side of our house in the backyard and it has fall chrysanthemums planted there. So when she was there in the spring last year it was a pretty bare area because the mums had already been removed from the previous fall and they don't grow again until September.

But this year I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't removed the dead mums yet. I didn't get to it in the fall, so I thought I'd do it in the spring, but it's been rainy lately and I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Last year the duck eggs didn't show up until April, so I thought I still had a little time.

So today it's nice and sunny and I decided that it was time to go out there and prepare the area just in case the ducks want to come back.

I moved aside a few of the dead mums and buried right in the middle of them, in the exact spot they were at last year, are duck eggs!! They're literally in the very exact spot where she put them last year. She was so determined to put them there that she pushed the dead flowers out of the way.

I know they're just duck eggs and I get way too excited about it, but I was so excited I practically jumped up and down like a little kid. :) My ducks are back!!!

Here's what I know about duck eggs from last year. What I learned is that she'll lay one egg every day until it "feels" right to her. Usually it's between 8-12 eggs by the time she's done. (Last year we had 12 but only four hatched.) She instinctively knows when she's laid enough. And then they don't start incubating until she had laid them all and starts sitting on them full time. After that it takes about 28 days for them to hatch.

Right now it looks like there are only maybe 3-4 out there and she's not sitting on them yet. At the moment she's sitting in the shade under our swing set with the male duck. Those two ducks are so cute. They go everywhere together. I love to watch them waddling around the backyard together. They usually show up in the morning for a few hours and then they leave and come back in the afternoon. They're not particularly scared of us as long as we don't bug them too much. If we get too close they'll get up and start walking away, but the kids can play in the back yard and they'll just sit on the grass and watch them as long as they don't get too close.

Once the mama duck decides that she's ready to incubate the eggs full time the daddy duck will take off. Last year he showed up occasionally to check on her, but not very often. It was actually interesting because I almost never saw him while she was incubating the eggs, but he did come back once the babies were born. He would show up in the evenings sometimes and the whole duck family would take a walk around the yard. I was really fascinated by their behavior last year. Nature is so perfect and beautiful. I love that the little duck couple stays together. I don't know how they remember where our house is or how the mama knows exactly where she laid her eggs the year before, but she does and it's amazing to me. I think today is the beginning of another fantastic adventure with our duck family!

Here are a few photos I took today. I'm going to go out and carefully remove the dead flowers, but I wanted to take a few photos before I did it. You can't really see the eggs in the photos because she has dug a hole in the ground and covered it with leaves to hide them. But they're there, they're beautiful and I couldn't possibly be more excited about it. :)


JET said...

Very cool. I loved looking at your pictures last year.

Misty said...

So interesting!! I'm so glad there back! I loved reading about the ducks last year and am already waiting to hear more!!

ReneesBoys said...

How exciting Wendy!! I can't believe it's already been a year. I followed your duck stories and photos (brilliant, by the way) all last spring on the bhb. What a great time of year for you, preparing for Clarissa and ducks! Your boys must be so excited!

~April~ said...

Oooh! I'm so excited for you. I loved reading about them last year and seeing the pictures. I'm excited to see more!

Gymguy said...

We have a duck couple that flies in everyday for a few hours in the morning and then for a few more in the afternoon. We've named them Flip (male) and Flop (female). We are concerned about the behavior of Flop. Sometimes when she is lying down she pants and fans her tail. Then she gets up and drinks some water, eats some cracked corn, lays down and pants some more. Is this the behaviour of a duck ready to lay eggs?

goodie said...

i am so excited too!! We have a mom duck sitting on her eggs right now. She is at our front door which may be tricky. I am just concerned b/c we saw eggs for about two weeks now and she has just come back now. I hope my daughter can experience this and enjoy it like your boys!!