Ducks Week 7: Special Commander Quakie

Quakie leads her troop during an away mission.

Quakie leads her crew during an away mission. Baby struggles to keep up.

The ducks have been very adventurous of late; they go on excursions several times a day, sneaking under the chain link fence to go explore the wheat field, or our neighbour’s yard, where there is plenty of leaf litter under his many trees to forage around in. Sometimes I go with them, but they are independent enough now to go on their own since Special Commander Quakie has taken charge.

The ducks seem to know not to go very far away or for very long if I am not with them. They usually even wait till I am in the yard before they will leave on one of their little expeditions, even when I don’t follow. Do they do this because they want me to know where they are? Or is this typical mallard flock behaviour and they consider me a flock member?  Is this Quakie’s idea since she is the leader? I don’t know the answers but this has happened too often to be a coincidence, there has to be some reason for it.

Hanging out at the pond

Hanging out at the pond

If the ducks don’t know where I am, they usually stay in our yard, hanging out near the pond. If I am with the group however, the ducks will feel comfortable enough to stay away from the pond for a longer period – up to 30 minutes, as if they have an extra bodyguard!

Today is the 10th day since Baby was injured. To our relief he is getting better every day, and manages to keep up with

Favourite hang out location

Favourite hang out location

his siblings quite well, hopping on his one good leg, even though he is still not putting much weight on the injured leg.  However we still forced him to sleep indoors again last night. I almost didn’t manage to catch him yesterday evening – it was almost dark when I went to get him at around 11pm. The ducks were all napping or lounging at the side of the pond. When I approached him, he jumped in the pond to escape my grasp – however he wasn’t too smart because a minute later I tricked him into coming to me (he thought I had food in my hand) and I grabbed him when he got near enough to the pond edge, and stuffed him into the carrier.

Baby gingerly testing out right foot

Baby gingerly testing out right foot

For the first time in more than a week, his siblings objected to me taking him away and all of them started quacking or peeping loudly. I was on the way upstairs with him when H. said he saw the ducks running towards the house after me and their kidnapped sibling, but they evidently changed their minds, and turned back to the pond. Baby himself was quite mad and fussed for a good long while before settling down to sleep one more night in his cardboard box.

We think that the time Baby spends sleeping indoors is helping him heal much faster since he gets 9-10 hours of solid, undisturbed sleep. If left outside, he’d be vulnerable to predators because of his injury, and wouldn’t sleep so well since the ducks would need to remain half awake all the time to be on guard. It is also cold at night outdoors, and he would be expending precious energy to keep warm. He does seem to sleep very well indoors – in fact this morning at 8am when I went to get him out of his box, he was completely drowsy and quiet – probably would have continued sleeping if I didn’t wake him up!

Each morning when I bring Baby out to the yard, the ducks would already be waiting impatiently,  and would immediately head under the fence to the neighbour’s garden with Baby hopping frenziedly to get into line behind them. I don’t think it is a coincidence that they wait for him, it happens every single morning without fail. Sometimes they wait on the doorstep at the patio. Other times, they get bored waiting and a couple will be in the pond while the others will be somewhere else in the yard foraging, but when we arrive, Quakie, who’d always be on the lookout, will give a loud “QUAAAK!!” and the rest will all rush into line behind her! It is impressive how she gets them to march in line in military precision.

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