Thursday, April 20, 2017

Taffy the Duck Returns:  When Ducks nest in the Garden

Ponds attract wildlife and the pond in our yard is no exception .  It seems like as soon as we installed it we started seeing more raccoons, skunks, frogs, and ducks.  The ducks seem to only show up in the spring and usually it is a couple that hangs out around the pond midday and then goes somewhere else at night.  One year we had "Quack" who ignored the pond completely and just sat on the roof squawking his fool head off.  We figured he wanted to get into the pond but was too dumb or something.  The past three years we have had a female start nests in the yard.  One year the nighttime varmits got her nest.  Last year she abandoned it.  This year she is back again, nesting behind the rose bush under the eaves.  We call her Taffy.

Taffy was pretty smart with her nest selection.  She is located behind a fence, safe from dogs and coyotes and is under the eaves against a brick wall safe from rain.  She is close to water as well.  For awhile we thought maybe she was a bad mom because she would leave the nest everyday around 4pm and not come back until after dark.  It turns out that this is totally normal behavior.  Mallards like Taffy lay one egg a day and do not stay seated on them until they have about 8 eggs.  Once 8 are laid, then she will sit longer, just leaving to get food and water for short periods of time.  The incubation period does not start with the first egg, it starts with the last egg laid and the eggs dont start incubating until she starts staying on the nest.  This allows all the eggs to hatch within a day of each other!  

I'm not exactly sure when Taffy started laying.  I think it has been about two weeks now.  She is cramping my style a little bit in that our patio is very busy in the spring with seedling care and pond start up.  I'm trying not to but her to much, but when I go out there she seems to tolerate me moving slowly and methodically and doing things like skimming the pond and feeding the koi.

It would be so cool to have baby ducks but I am a bit worried about that.  Ducks are pretty messy and I would rather not have a whole flock calling the pond home.  I also am worried about baby ducks getting harassed by the koi which are pretty big these days.  Ah well we will see what happens,  I am enjoying having her hanging around regardless.

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