Friday, July 17, 2009

MALLARD LEARNING CURVE


Remember when I said I was just as glad that the mother mallard who’s been feeding all summer at the base of the red maple hadn’t kept bringing the whole brood with her every time she stopped by? Well, I spoke too soon. Now that they're older, she's able to take them all with her to the lake, and today I saw them all arriving just beyond the breakwall. I knew what was coming next. You may recall, the mom mallard brought the tiny brand new babies a couple of times, but that was it (or so I thought) and, like I said, I was kind of relieved. I can barely keep up with the birdseed consumption as it is. That’s mainly because the usual suspects - bluejays, grackles, redwings, mourning doves, cardinals, sparrows etc - all go through the seed so fast I have to keep putting it out there so there’ll be at least some for the ducks whenever they arrive. I haven’t kept track of how much I’ve spent on birdseed this summer, and frankly, I don’t want to know.

Then this morning, when the hen showed up with some of the kids in tow, I was sorry I hadn't put out any seed yet. It looked like she had about five or six out of the original eleven with her. Then she flew up over the breakwall, nibbled a bit at the leftovers, and then started quacking like crazy. Then she flapped up onto the breakwall parapet, and looked down at the youngsters, and quacked some more. It was as plain as the nose (beak?) on your face that she was calling to them to come and learn about this valuable food source. None of them lifted a feather. Typical teenagers. It seems like only yesterday when they were babies, they followed her around in a tight single file everywhere she went, and instantly obeyed her when she told them to stop while she check both ways for traffic in the road. But now that they’re older, they just ignore her. I guess it’s the same the world over. Later, she called again, she got one of them to join her. So there I was with my camera (hidden on the other side of the window) hoping more of the kids would fly up and over. I better put another bag of birdseed on my next shopping list.

P.S. When I posted about this before, someone had asked me about what I was putting out. It isn’t cracked corn (I haven’t even seen any for sale around here); it’s a mixed seed especially for songbirds. And apparently mallards.

16 comments:

mom/caryn said...

Awwwww... What a good mom. To just nibble a bit and call the kiddies to come get some of the bounty she'd discovered.

Where do you think the expression came from, "eat like a bird"? The birds I've fed around here can go through food faster than a pack of cub scouts go through warm cookies.
They descend, and it seems like it's gone with a whoosh.

Sylvia K said...

If you watch for a while it seems to me that the one thing you can learn is that animals, birds, and people are really not so different after all! Love your post and I can so related to Mama Mallard! Of course for me that was years ago and now I suspect my kids look at me and shake their heads, just like I did with them! What goes around, comes around and there's always the one who'll follow you everywhere -- just ask Mama Mallard!

Cloudia said...

so enjoy visiting you and the ducks, Deborah ;-)

aloha-

Comfort Spiral

Lorac said...

So true! LOL Well that is just ducky! Sorry couldn't resist! You and I, just a couple of softies when it comes to wildlife. Should be no other way.

Naturegirl said...

Ahh..Deborah..keep them fed...who cares about the cost...that's our entertainment! I think so any way!

Sue said...

You make me sorry that I didn't take the extra five minutes to stop and photograph the ducks on campus as I was leaving this evening. It had rained heavily and lots of worms and bugs were coming up from the grass, so there was a great flock of mallards and mallard cross breds covering the grass between the buildings.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Deb, You have TONS of birds also... Sometimes I wonder what I spend on birdseed ---and then I immediately put it out of my mind. ha ha

I have a Mourning Dove who loves to just sit on my deck. Guess he or she feels safe there.

Love your mallards.. That Mama had better pull ou the paddle and make those babies behave!!!! ha ha

Hugs,
Betsy

Lin said...

what a fun though expensive hobby...

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Let's see how long it takes the young ones to find the seed. Interesting to watch, isn't it? Are these the ones from across the road? Maybe you need to post one of those bird crossing signs.

Hope you are having a nice weekend. It is raining here today.

Quiet Paths said...

Oh dear, how I can relate to her duck teens! LOLz!

Rose said...

I wondered if they would eventually show up...I bet before it is over the whole bunch come to dine!

SandyCarlson said...

Ah, the babies are hungry. How right of the mallard mom to count on you.

Indrani said...

It is the same all over... my children are growing too. And I need such reminders.:)
Great post! Keep feeding them.

Ruth said...

I have noticed several larger "adolescent" birds demanding to be fed by weary parents this year. Adult robins are feeding their "babies", who are bigger than the parents, from our Saskatoon berry bush right now.

Aleta said...

That's hilarious about the "teen ducks" and their behavior. It does seem that it's natural in all types. Lol.

How sweet of you to put out bird seed. We do the same thing and love to see the blue jays swoop in.

Dee said...

what a sweet post! I can sure sympathize with the bird seed bills too- I have feeders both at home and at my office, and I stress about not feeding the office birds over the weekend....like I don't have better things to worry about. ;)
I too do NOT want to know how much I have spent!