Duckings Week 5: Crazy duck races

We've overgrown our baby pool (paint roller tray)!

We’ve overgrown our baby pool (paint roller tray)!

The duckies are almost 5 weeks old! I can’t believe how quick they grow. They are almost fully-feathered, and no longer look all rumpled and messy like they did 2 weeks ago when they started growing out their new feathers and losing their baby fluffy down.

They look so beautiful, and already so different from their baby selves. Their wings are almost complete  – just a few more pin feathers have to open up and they will start learning to fly. This should be in a week or two!

Look ma, I got wings!

Look ma, I got wings!

The ducks have recently been indulging in crazy sprinting stunts up and down the pond. We refer to this as “the crazy 5 minutes”.  When they go mad like this, they move their legs so fast that they literally start lifting off and are running on the water surface.

One moment all of them are just swimming around as usual, then suddenly as if at some unseen command, they all go nuts and rush across the pond trying to outdo each other, turn around at the end and rush back the other direction. So on, they speed back and forth for almost five minutes, churning up the water into a roiling froth. After their sprinting session, they seem rather satisfied, and will preen themselves and take another well-deserved nap. We think they are training for when they are able to fly and take off from the water. Wonder what the Koi fish think of all this madness.

These flowers look tasty!

These flowers look tasty!

The ducks forage around the pond and garden for other tasty treats like insects, algae, snails, and worms. One or two more adventurous ducks would check out the taste of things like flowers or herbs as well, but as they need lots of protein in their first weeks, they’ve been fed duckling starter feed for their first 4 weeks. Now they are almost full grown, we have to reduce the protein in their diet to avoid angel wing, and  I’ve been feeding them a new  grain food (Country’s Best Gra-Mix) aside from their daily veggie treats.  The farm supply store owner said we should give them this “supplementary feed” instead of the regular feed otherwise they will stay with us forever! The Gra-Mix is a scratch feed made of cracked corn and other hard grains and is nearer to what they may find in the wild rather than the stuff that is fed to domestic poultry to fatten them up.

Not that I would mind them staying forever – we would definitely be sad if they just left and never came back. The ideal situation is if they flew to a nearby lake and reintegrated with a wild population of Mallards, but came back to visit us from time to time.

Baby (the smallest duck) is slowly recovering from his leg injury. I think it may have been a minor sprain or a strain. He was still limping this morning, but by evening he seemed to be much better and was happily waddling around the garden with his siblings who took many little excursions away from the pond to explore today. We think they are looking for new areas to forage, as they are getting a little too big for the pond now. The funny thing is that they still quack for me to come out and play bodyguard for them.  I never seem to get a moment’s peace from these guys, but I’m not complaining. It’s nice to be needed!

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