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Posts Tagged ‘ducks’

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Longtime readers may notice that I’m not writing as much about dogs now as I once was.

That’s because I find other animals very worthy of my attention.

Over the winter and spring, I have been watching a great Youtube reality series called 50 Ducks in a Hot Tub.

The series follows Matt McDougall’s experiences raising Pekin, Rouen, and Muscovy ducks for meat. The ducks are free range and get to spend much of the summer and fall on the lake that lies just beyond his property in Eastern Ontario. There are some amazing videos from last year that show hundreds of ducks coming off the lake on their way back to their night pen.

This year, he has decided to donate this year’s duckling crop to charity to feed the homeless. He also culled all his Rouen drakes last winter, so among his mallard derivative flock, this year’s babies are all going to be Pekin/Rouen crosses.

He’s also letting his Muscovy hens hatch their own ducklings this year, which has not been without its difficulties. Just a few hours after the first batch of ducklings hatched, the Muscovy hens started fighting each other.

I really enjoy this show, not just because I do like learning things about keeping different species of waterfowl, but also because the ducks are just so interesting. And yes, there is a very cool dog on there, a dogue de Bordeaux cross named Dug. He keeps the ducks safe from predators, and he also tries to baby the the little ducklings.

To make sure the all ducks have enough food to make to the slaughter, Matt is asking that everyone who loves the show share the videos as much as possible.

Youtube pays out based upon viewership and sharing. I’ve made all of 25 cents off my Youtube videos, if that tells you anything!

I have a fair-sized platform with my Facebook group, and I have been sharing them there.

If you find that you like this channel as much as I do, please make sure you like the videos and share them in as many place as possible.

That’s what I am doing.

These little West Virginia Pekins and Rouens would appreciate it!

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Winter ducks

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Duck wing in the frost

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One of the ducks disappeared a few weeks ago. I cam across her wing on the hard frozen ground this morning.

My guess is a fox did it.

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The khaki ones are very khaki today.

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Spaniel worrying ducks, 1821

Painting by James Ward:

Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The white coloration tells us that these are tame ducks, and those ducklings certainly don’t look safe!

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I think this one is a hen. Oscar’s the one with the plumage in transition and the drake voice:

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Lovely little vocalizations:

Source.

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Ducks in a row

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There are now only four.

A predator got one.

 

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On my last evening at the beach last week, I went out to the pond to feed the turtles and a big Asian carp that essentially made a living out of begging food from people.

As I tossed out the first pieces of bread, I heard a quacking sound from the other side of the pond.

And then I saw six brownish forms motoring across the pond in my direction.

I recognized that I was about to enjoy the company of a few mallard ducks.

I have always been a bit of a duck lover. I had a pet Muscovy hen named Chester, who was so named under the assumption that she was a male. When she laid an egg, she remained Chester. I just couldn’t come up with something else.

I also have a soft place for wood ducks. Every spring, a pair of these ducks check out our pond. With all of those trees growing around it, the pond appears to be an ideal place for these tree nesting ducks. It’s only when they discover that there are no hollow trees in which to make a nest that they move on to more suitable lodgings.  I have often wonder what would happen if we put a nest box in one of the trees. Maybe they would stay. Maybe.

But my mind was not on those birds this evening. My mind had been on turtles, gulls, and scallop shells. It was only from that quacking that my mind began to consider ducks.

My mallard company continued to advance in my direction. I could tell that this was a mother mallard and her five nearly grown offspring. Her orangish bill announced her adult status, as did her quacking and her position in the rear of the swimming phalanx. Her five nearly grown ducklings still peeps as if they were still little down-covered things.

As I tossed the bread into the water for the ducks, it became clear that feeding in the water was not what they had in mind.  They ignored the pieces of bread in the water and kept advancing. As soon as they reached the bank where I was standing, they leaped out and surrounded me.

I dropped a few crumbs for them. Some of these fell at my feet. The ducks ran around at the edges of my toes and gobbled down the bread.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, I knelt down. Perhaps I was just moved at the boldness of these wild ducks. Perhaps I had some primal urge to want to commune with them. I don’t know.

But I got on the ducks’ level. I was looking into their soft brown eyes.

And they were looking into mind.

I made sure that I tossed a little bread to the hen, who stood a few feet behind her charges. She was covering their backs.

Two of the ducklings were quite bold, and it did not bother them in the least to take food from my hand. They seemed to enjoy this behavior.  It may have given them an advantage over their siblings, who were busy squabbling over tossed aside crumbs. From my hand, they were guaranteed a big piece and no competition. They just had to be bold enough to take the bread from my hand.

Twice the bold ducklings’ bills missed the bread and grazed my fingers. I could feel the serrated plates on the inside of their bills gently scrape my hand. I first felt this sensation when I was a young boy at West Virginia state park. I remember being so scared by it that I know that I cried when ” the duck bit me.”

Yet when I felt this sensation from these ducklings, I felt connected. The duckling and I were one for a brief second. I could feel its sensations. I could fully appreciate its essence.

It brought out something instinctive in me that I can’t quite comprehend or fully articulate. It is this deep desire to connect with other living things that suddenly was awakened.

I’m sure that this desire is deep within all of us. That is why we want to feed wild animals. Even if we know that feeding many wild animals makes them more dangerous than the would be otherwise, we still want to. We want to feed the raccoons, the opossums, the skunks, the bears, the deer, and the alligators.

Such a desire probably made us better hunters and trappers, so one can see that it has some evolutionary advantages. Being able to catch small, cute animals also probably helped men win favor with women. Later on, anyone would could domesticate animals would have certain advantages in maintaining as constant source of protein.

But beyond that, I think we just like to connect with non-human beings. We have to put on so many different shells when we deal with others of our species. With animals, we can allow ourselves to be more open.

That’s the main purpose of dogs and cats and other companion animals. They allow us to be ourselves with another being that has a pulse but no ability to make harsh judgments about who we are.

The cheeky ducklings took me back.  No, they didn’t necessarily take me back to my somewhat duck-crazed childhood. They took me into a deeper past.

A past we all share as Homo sapiens, whoever we are or where ever we live. It is the same past we share with domestic dogs. It is the past that existed when we lived as part of the ecosystem and not above it.

It is a past that we will never regain.

But for a few seconds, we can catch glimpses of it. The vestiges that come through when we walk in the woods with our dogs or when we feel the bill plates of a duck gently scraping our skin.

And the trick is learning how to appreciate the glimpses, however brief they may be.

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