“The Duckling Professor”

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On Sunday, the local ABC News ran a story about the pond, the ducks, and yours truly. You can see the 3.5-minute video (and a transcript) of the piece below, shot and reported by ABC correspondent Zach Ben-Amots.

It’s a nice piece, I think, but I always cringe when I see myself. And it’s worse this time because I’m all shaggy from a lack of a haircut. And, in the second bit, I admitted to being stressed out (I was!), even though I greatly enjoy tending the waterfowl. This was right after we had another duckling death and the hens were fighting. So I’m not going to watch it again.

Oh well, I submit it for your approval. Just ignore the (lack of a) haircut.


Duckling leaps!

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Very sad news: we lost another duckling. We’re down to 17. This little guy was found floating on its side, and I recovered it, rushed it to ICU (my office), and warmed and dried it. I thought its eye opened and I performed CPR, pressing its tiny chest and breathing on its bill, but it was futile. I’m heartbroken. I want the rest of them to survive so badly!

But at least we have some nice videos today.

At last, after several years, we’ve captured videos of Honey’s ducklings leaping from the window, where the nest was, to the ground. We were pretty sure that Honey’s brood would jump on May 7 because there had been ducklings for at least a day. So three of us convened at 6 am on the west side of Erman Hall to see if we could capture the leap.

The youngest member of Team Duck, Meghan Hammond, captured the whole process in this 9-minute video. As you’ll see, the ducklings were reluctant to jump, but one finally did at 4:01, whereupon Honey flew to the ground and called the others. One by one, with trepidation, the eight others made the leap. (One, Cuthbert, had accidentally fallen off the night before, but I took him home and he was reintegrated with the brood as they marched, post-jump, to the pond.)

Meghan retrieved three ducklings who had difficulty getting out of the trampoline, and put them under the bush where Honey was waiting, and, with the whole brood behind her, she marched south and then turned the corner to the west, heading for the water.

Honey needed no guidance, for she knew the way to the pond. As you’ll see in later videos, when she entered the pond with brood, she got into a huge tussle with Dorothy.

You’ll hear our commentary in the background the video, which of course was accidental.

This is my video recorded with my Panasonic Lumix. It’s a closer-up view, but shows only a portion of the ducklings jumping. You can see them peeping and jumping reluctantly, but they couldn’t avoid the blandishments of their mom below. I show six ducklings remaining on the ledge here, with four jumping. As I said, all nine made it down safely.

Here are Dorothy’s babies having their first swim two days earlier, when they jumped from the third-floor ledge of Erman on May 5 at about 9:15 a.m. This was filmed by reader Sara Lackie from the PondCam. The notes are on the YouTube site, but you see Dorothy calling them down, and then ripples as they jump in the pond. At 2:43 you see her in the water with eight babies, but then at 4:12 she goes back to retrieve the other two, and then the whole family of mom plus ten head for the North Duck Island to rest.

At the end, all twenty made it to the pond. We’ve since lost two, but as of today the eighteen remaining ones are healthy, eating well, and growing.

Welcome to the world, little guys! May the Duck Force be with you. I will do all I can to help you.