Two nights after Project Ducky Unification got underway we had a late night disturbance.
At 4 a.m. I awoke to the sound of frantic ducks. My first thought was that a predator had made its way into the duck house. A quick poke at Paul and it was clear that he was either ignoring me, or really sound asleep. I raced outside in my jammies on my own to investigate.
In far Eastern Maine, the sun is up at 4 a.m. so it was easy to see what was the problem. We had partitioned off half of the duck house for Puddles and Gabby so the big ducks could get used to having the babies around. Somehow Gabby squeezed past my makeshift wall and all hell had broken lose. The big ducks clearly saw her as a threat and attacked her, poking at her, driving her out of the house, and yanking out her feathers. After a few false starts I was finally able to separate the ducks, snag Gabby and put her back in the safe zone.
I fine-tuned my screen wall divider and the ducks have been enjoying “separate but equal” access to the duck house during these last three weeks.
The two duck families continue to tolerate each other on the pond and lounge warily together on the same patch of grass. Until last night.
Getting the ducks off the pond and into the safety of the duck house for the night is a two-person job. They are stubborn little creatures and if you walk along one side of the pond to coax them out – they don’t head toward the exit ramp, but to the other side of the pond thumbing their bills at you. So it takes teamwork – Paul walking along one side of the pond and me along the other herding them toward the ramp and up the hill to the duck house.
Last night the baby ducks, instead of waiting for us to collect them and deposit them into their protected half of the duck house, followed the big ducks right into the house as if they belonged there. Paul and I watched them for a bit to see if the babies could hold their own and then decided to take down the makeshift duck house divider and see what happened.
To my delight, they made it through the night with only a minor squabble! Patience is not one of my virtues, but in this case, it paid off – giving them all time to become familiar with each other and easing them into housemates was the ticket. I’m feeling quite relieved!
Of course, the babies don’t look much like babies anymore even though they haven’t yet developed their quacks. The babies, Puddles and Gabby are the two on the far right.