Don’t get me wrong. Spending time with very young ducklings, being responsible for their well-being and learning to care for them is a very rewarding and interesting experience, one I would not trade for anything. But it’s also very tiring because they never quite stop. There is always something that you have to be doing for them all the time. These little guys are in a big hurry to grow up and it seems they must move, they must eat, and they must sleep, as much and as quickly as possible. This cycle repeats many times within a day. It’s almost like a day of our time is a week of theirs.
One thing they absolutely need in their first 2 weeks is their mom (or foster mom) who will protect them, make sure they feed, and keep them warm and dry when they sleep. I’m not exactly crazy about spending 7 to 8 hours a day outdoors watching over them as they forage in the pond, especially when it’s cold and wet. I try to be there as much as possible when they need me however.
At this moment I still can’t get more than maybe 10 or 20 metres away from the little ones before they start panicking and running after me cheeping their little hearts out, so I have to stay nearby while they swim. Someone suggested I bring a book or magazine to occupy myself, but I can’t keep my eyes off the tykes. They are always up to something.
When they are done with being in the water and want to eat duck chow or sleep, they follow me back to the living room. I’ve tried feeding them duck chow in the patio just outside the house, but they seem quite uncomfortable with that. Perhaps they feel too exposed to predatory birds, or too far from the relative safety of the pond.
So at least for the moment, I’ve to continue cleaning up their feeding area in the living room 7 or 8 times a day, because they make such an unholy mess spilling food and water and pooping everywhere each time they eat. Laying newspapers out under the food and water bowls to contain the mess only helps a little bit.
This morning when it was warm and sunny outside, I sat with the ducklings for an hour or more on the grass while they dried off from their swim. While H. did yard work nearby, the ducklings dozed off next to me – their eyes closed and their heads started to nod gently till they came to rest on their sides or on the tip of a bill. They are complete babies but I suspect they won’t stay that way for long.