Mother’s Day Ducklings

newly hatched mallard ducklings

Our Mother’s Day ducklings, newly hatched.

I can’t believe it. They are all here, all five of them!  And to think I had worried so much. The last 4 eggs hatched almost simultaneously at 3pm today. Once they got going, all of them “unzipped” their shells very quickly – within minutes – and 4 healthy ducklings popped out! I had to help #2 a bit, because he broke too small a hole in the egg to get out completely – his fat butt was stuck! Egg #5 was the smallest, and the duck that came out of that was also the tiniest. She practically slipped out of the shell without any trouble at all, as if it were a little too big for her!

Anyway we have a 100% hatch rate – much better than we expected, what with the inconsistent incubation and mistakes etc. So all 5 are born on Mother’s Day. How appropriate.

I wondered if I should leave them in the incubator (it was really dirty by this time with bits of afterbirth sticking everywhere and the water reservoir full of dirty water) or take them out and put them into the brooder box with #1.

Right after hatching, they were very busy trying to groom themselves, and kept falling all over each other in the incubator and hitting their heads or bills on the hard plastic sides. They were all cheeping loudly and their elder sibling watched with a lot of interest from outside the incubator, trying to get near to them.

Feeling sorry to see this uncomfortable scene in the incubator, I finally decided to turn it off and put the 4 little ones in the brooder. Duckling #1 was very pleased with this and went to work immediately to groom his younger siblings, whose down feathers were still sticky and wet. They all went under the heating plate and have been sleeping or grooming themselves the last 4-5 hours – making hardly a peep! It’s a good sign they are feeling ok and not too cold or hot.

I was very relieved, finally I could go off and do housework without a duck insisting on following me around! I think Duckling #1 was insecure about being alone, and now that he has company, he’s quite happy 🙂 I hope so, anyway. I am keeping away from the other ducklings in the hope they don’t imprint so heavily on me and start following me around too. I certainly hope they stay in their box tonight and don’t jump out and hop into bed with us!

Tomorrow we will have to go out and buy more supplies – a large sized plastic rabbit cage or similar to use as an indoor brooder, a waterer and feeder, bedding etc. They will need that for about 2-3 weeks after which we will think about how to house them outdoors – maybe they can just go in the garden shed.

Our neighbour told us we will definitely regret having ducks, they are messy animals and will poop all over our nice yard, and when they grow out of their cute duckling stage, they will be ugly and we will hate them and will have to take them to the nearest lake to abandon! Not that H. or I took him seriously – he is always partly joking.  I guess people say such things because they only think about how they themselves would feel and not about how you would feel.

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