Archive for June, 2013

Make Way For … Duck Blog2!

June 12, 2013

Of course I would write it. You were wondering, weren’t you, about how things would play out with that wild duck nesting in our back yard … Well,

At first I ran the back sprinklers a lot. It got hot here and I thought any nesting duck would appreciate a cool mist.

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But then I read online that mother ducks have to wet their feathers – to maintain a certain level of humidity for the developing eggs.

So I went out and bought a kiddie pool.

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Slid it in only a few feet away from the nest and filled it up with water.

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If you look really closely you will see her gray round head (looks like a smooth, gray rock) poking out about half way between the short and long swatches of sunlight on the left side of the picture.

There you see the pool, under the spruce tree, from a distance.

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Now the mama duck could step off her nest, take a few hops for a quick dip and then hop back to her nest. It’s a tough job, sitting on those eggs, and I could help her here.

I then called the local animal shelter because I had heard they had a bird expert on staff. I talked to the receptionist.

“We have this wild duck nesting in our back yard under our spruce tree. Don’t you have an expert there who can tell me how I can help her?’

“No. He’s not in right now, but I can help you.”

“Yeah? What should I do?”

“Leave her alone.”

“Oh.”

(I really didn’t have too many heads working on this duck problem since David was out of town for several days – uh, now you know about the pool, honey.)

So, as not to look completely stupid (to the duck if no-one else) and not create a breeding ground for mosquitos, I got rid of the pool … as quietly as I could – (by rigourously splashing the water out of it with my hand and thrashing the pool around to where it was finally empty enough to drag it out of there.) I gave the pool to a friend with small children.

I checked on the duck every evening.

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She is very well camouflaged, but if you look carefully under the lower extending limb you can see her.

Along about 7 PM the sun was far enough west that she could bask in it.

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I’d see her head, poking out of the nest, illuminated with sunshine. But I couldn’t capture it in a photo.

I planted flowers.

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Rudy was invariably out in the yard with me. I’d keep an eye on him. He’d be this normal flopped-out-hanging-with-the-pack dog, then suddenly morph into a bird-dog

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Pointing right at the duck.

“NO, RUDY!!” “COME!!” “TREAT!!”

I had bought him special new ‘Stay away from the duck” treats.

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Crunchy with Real Pomegranate! YUM!

“EAT IT, RUDY. No, you’re not getting Bacon Cheese Beggin’ Strips!”

Well, Rudy flushed the duck out one morning last week. Right in front of my nose. She flew up over the house and I corralled him into the house, scolding him profusely. The duck landed right back in our yard, looked in all directions, then hop, hop, hopped (she ran, really) back to her nest. Whew!

I’ve spent a lot of time in discussions with Rudy as to why he doesn’t need to go out.

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We’ve been eating dinner on the back deck with the duck nesting in the background.

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David, Glen, Megan, me, and Rudy.

I told my neighbors across the street, Marion and Armand, about the duck and how I expected the eggs to hatch around June 26.

I checked on the duck last night. Ran the back sprinklers just for her, because the temperature topped 90 degrees yesterday.

I was out deadheading flowers this morning. Left with Megan about noon to run some errands. Pulled back into the driveway a little after 2PM. We weren’t in the house 1 minute when my cell phone rang. It was Marion from across the street.

“Jody, quick!” Your duck was just in our yard with her ducklings!”

WHAT??

“Armand is following her and taking pictures!”

I dashed out the front door. The duck and her 5 ducklings had already reached the house on the corner of our street – I snapped a photo quick as I could –

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Not the best photo you’ve ever seen of a mother duck and her ducklings, but before I took another photo I thought, “Megan can’t miss this!” and ran home and got Megan. We ran back to where I had left the ducks maybe 90 seconds before and now there was no sign of them. We ran further – looked all around. No sign of her and her ducklings. Armand had gone home. WHAT? Was that it? Was that really OUR duck?

I ran back to the nest.

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Sure enough. The babies had hatched all right. And to think when they hatched I was going to be sure and open our gate to let them through!

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Well, that mama duck and her babies were at least headed in the right direction – toward a canal just two blocks west of us. Of course, they have to cross a busy street. (Make Way ….!!!)

I feel a little sad that she’s gone. But at least I can freely let the dog out now. I don’t mind a bit his chasing the squirrels.

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Duck Spring

June 3, 2013

Spring! It seems that everything bloomed at once here. It warmed up at the beginning of May and everything popped. I’ve missed it some years. This year I buried my face in the lilac blossoms

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to inhale their fragrance.

I took photos of the snowballs in spring.

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and the towers of flowers

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perched on their branches like Christmas trees.

The flowering crab in the center of our back yard

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is maybe not as showy as some of the other trees in town.

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Here is a photo of our front lawn.

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Grows fast this time of year. If you look very closely you can probably see it growing in this picture.

David is having to mow it about every five days. ‘Tis the season, honey!

For the last few summers he’s been hauling the grass clippings to the back yard and dumping them under the spruce tree by our storage shed.

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Spring flies by so quickly. Early on we had ducks flopping out in our front yard. We found it amusing – pairs of ducks waddling around the neighborhood – napping in front yards. Our dog, Rudy couldn’t abide the ducks. He’d bark at them through the front windows and run them off.

A pair of ducks started frolicking in our back yard. We were amused. We’d let Rudy out, and he’d tear after them as if protecting us from an armed invasion.

Then one day I was out planting flowers and noticed him behaving very un-poodle like. Poodles see a squirrel or some other movement in the yard and they tear after it without hesitation, barking like maniacs. They are not your quintessential hunting dog. But this particular day Rudy pointed toward the back spruce tree, froze into a hunting-dog pose, lifted his right front leg, took a step forward, posed, lifted his left front leg, nudged his nose forward, then … CHARGE!! he went after whatever it was under the spruce tree to flush it out.

“FLAP, FLAP, FLAP” out flew a female duck with Rudy on her tail. I thought the duck would collide with the house trying to escape, but she soared up over the roof. We laughed.

I really wasn’t paying much attention, but did notice that that duck was hanging around. One day I noticed her sitting in the yard maybe 10 feet away from me as I was pulling weeds.

Meanwhile, Rudy got into this ‘patrolling the backyard’ mode. It would start in the den, where I was relaxing.

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“Okay! You have my attention, Rudy!”

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He wanted out.

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Scoping out the yard now…

He runs to the east fence and barks at the neighbors, just in case there’s any kids around. I have just called to him to get him to stop barking:

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He’s at the gate now…
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you know, scoping out the action on the street.

Now he turns his attention to the spruce tree, strikes his hunting-dog pose, and …. CHARGE!!!

“FLAP, FLAP, FLAP”…out flies the duck from under the spruce tree.

Huh? Surely, she couldn’t be nesting back there?

OMG!

She is well-camouflaged – hard to see her but …. she’s there

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Here you get a little closer view of her – her cute little tail is curled up out of her “nest” (which is, basically, a hole she scratched out of the middle of a pile of grass clippings).

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I couldn’t get to sleep that night for thinking about the fate of that poor mama duck and her babies. Why did she make a nest on the ground in a suburban fenced yard with a dog? How could she possibly keep that nest safe for her ducklings to hatch – what with the crows, blue jays, robins and squirrels, AND DOG lurking about. If those ducklings do hatch, how are they going to make it safely to water from our back yard?

On Friday I went back out there. The duck was gone.

Oh, look!

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Something got to the nest already! These broken eggs were out in the yard maybe 15 feet from the nest. Oh, how sad. Oh well, thank goodness. It’s a relief, really. The whole scenario was doomed from the start.

Whew! On with our lives. I’m planting flowers. Rudy is patrolling the yard.

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Then he does it again. He charges under the spruce tree.

“FLAP, FLAP, FLAP” Out she flies.

You’re kidding!!! She has more eggs! She is still there, sitting on her nest.

Now it’s Monday. Rudy still patrols the yard, but I watch him and every time he pauses and strikes a pose toward the spruce tree I call him – and award him with a treat for coming. This morning he walked near the nest, peered over at it, I called him and he left it alone. Good dog!

How is this going to play out?

I am going to try and help that nesting mama duck under our spruce tree in the back yard.

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Leave her be as much as possible for the 28 days her eggs will be incubating.

The only predictable outcome is that Rudy will surely grow fatter from all the treats he’s getting for coming when I call him away from the duck. If we do see this thing through and those babies hatch out there’s no telling how Rudy will react to a chirping tiny yellow duck invasion.

Uh, did I also mention our neighbors have cats?