June 19, 2012


Well, it finally worked! Mama Muscovy got the memo that we had all had a meeting and decided that she was supposed to lay fertile eggs, sit on the nest, and hatch out a healthy clutch of ducklings. Fourteen to be exact.

This past fall we added four Muscovy ducks to our flock--two male, two female. While the breed is South American in origin, they have been so successful at our neighbors, that the population has practically naturalized---foraging for food and successfully raising young to breeding age. As Opalyn can attest, when a mama bird has her mothering instincts intact and can raise a clutch, it makes the life of us humans significantly easier, as we do not have to incubate the eggs. During my time at Windward, Mama Muscovy is the first of our birds to hatch out her own young.

So it was a delightful day indeed when we arrived at lunch to hear the news: Mama Muscovy has been spotted with fourteen little ducklings trailing behind her. Some all yellow, others black with yellow streaks.

Mama Muscovy and her ducklings

This duck had been rather unsocial over the past several weeks, showing up occasionally, and then disappearing soon thereafter, her destination unknown. I had my suspicions, but now its clear. She had been sitting on a nest.

We wanted the ducklings to have the best shot at a long life, and with all the ravens and hawks that circle above our forest canopy, these little ducklings are prime targets. So Opalyn scooped them up, one by one, and placed them in Vermadise, along with Mama Duck. With a little artificial pond, protective covering, and a sure supply of food, hopefully these little ducks will grow up enough for us to decipher who their daddy is. There is suspicion there was some cross breeding between the Muscovy--green and black-- and a Runner Duck--yellow; but these two duck types are distinct species as opposed to just different breeds, so we are not even sure if this is theoretically possible. But then again, as they say, the map is not the territory.