The ducklings are already 9 days old, and don’t seem like babies anymore, I guess we could call them kindergarten ducks? They still are very dependent on us but are already asserting their independence wherever they are able to.
They are growing so fast that I am sure they will be big enough to stay outdoors soon enough. Or at least, feed outdoors and not in our living room. That would certainly give me much needed rest and time for myself. Aside from my other chores, I am cleaning up their messes in the house what seems like a dozen times a day. My hands are becoming chapped and dry!
H. loves the ducks to death, otherwise I think he would not tolerate the kind of mess they make – he is quite anal about keeping the floor clean in the house. Fortunately, their cage is quite clean and doesn’t stink. They don’t spend much time in there anyway, except to sleep at night. They do take ages however to go to sleep after being put in their cage. They will peep their poor little hearts out, and fling themselves repeatedly against the cage sides. I have to reassure them constantly that I am nearby, and that they are safe, before they will finally get in bed (climbing on top of their heating plate, which is getting a bit too small for all 5 of them).
What really helps is covering the cage with towels, paper, anything – to block out all the light. They get sleepy when it is dark, and will sleep quite peacefully through the night. Problem is that now that summer is approaching, our daylight hours are so long that it doesn’t get dark until almost 10pm. The sun also rises earlier each day, and they start peeping again at 6am in the morning!
The ducks have grown so much since I last posted pictures of them. Their necks are so long now that they can lie outside of the pond, and still reach the water with the tips of their bills to drink, and not have to actually get up to go into the pond. Lazy bums! The water level is several inches below the edge of the pond, and just one week ago, they had to struggle to climb out.
I’ve been looking online for ideas for temporary duck housing. Apparently, dog houses suit ducks more than chicken houses (since chickens perch but ducks prefer to stay on the ground). H.would like to get a dog house and put it in a very small predator-proof run in which they can be locked in at night. This will go on the small grass patch just next to our garden shed. I would love to be able to build something like this, however I’m not sure there is a space in the garden where it would fit without being an eyesore. It is temporary till they can fly, so we are going to spend only the minimum of $ and effort to build it – after which they will have to fend for themselves as free-range ducks even at night.
We would then leave the dog house long-term for the ducks to come back to in spring, in case they do migrate in the fall. I don’t know if adult duck siblings would sleep together or if they would even continue to hang out with each other. I’ve read that they don’t necessarily migrate together even if they grew up together. Makes sense since they need to find a mate before migration.