Apparently some of the video embeds in this post are acting up. Try opening them in different platforms/browsers if they’re not working for you. Sorry!
A bit of history to start: last year in April, we found a duck nest in the backyard. A camera was set up and eventually a duck showed up. My parents named her Corina (as we were fresh into the Corona pandemic). Over the following month, we sheltered this duck, saved her from raccoon attacks, and literally carried her babies to the creek (here’s a blog post about all that). We figured it was a one-time experience, and hoped it would be too, as we only had time to manage it all because we were newly in a pandemic and none of us had work. So imagine our surprise a few weeks ago when our neighbour tells my father that she noticed a duck poking around the bushes at the front of the house only a few days after one was spotted near the old nesting spot (which we purposely made inhabitable). Yep, there were eggs again. This is that story.
We don’t actually know if it was the same duck again laying eggs. But based on the fact that one was spotted near the old area days earlier, we assumed it was. Besides, what were we going to do, come up with a whole new duck name? No. We called her Corina still and set up the motion sensor camera again. A highlight of my days was watching her do simple duck things like scratch her face and wiggle and more.
And this year, she was in a much safer spot. Tucked away in bushes in the front of the house, she had a bit of a roof (which was good as it snowed one day) and was hidden even from people walking up the front steps like the newspaper deliverers. That being said, we were not free from middle-of-the-night panics. She was attacked by a skunk one night, though she fought back well (footage here if you can bear to watch) and there was no skunk spraying. We set up another camera that next day, and were treated to a scary close call that night when a coyote(!) walked right up our steps and got very close to her. I cannot stress enough how insane a coyote sighting is given our very safe residential and forest-free neighbourhood. My parents and neighbours were shook when they saw the footage. So we also set up a motion-sensor sprinkler, and on the night the ducklings were there, we put up chicken wire so they were very protected.
She laid 14 eggs, and hatching happened basically right on time, 38 days into the process, on May 2nd. Last year, she and the ducklings were ready to leave the nest at 6am, so after a very sleepless night this year (the babies kept moving around and triggering the camera, which notified me and woke me up constantly) we were ready at 6am again. She didn’t actually start moving out until 9am, though, and luckily my boss was very cool about me pushing our meeting back so I could attend to it. However, as she and 11 babies were on her way to the neighbour’s pool again (insert deep sigh here), I peeked into the nest, and saw three unhatched eggs. Some failures are normal, but what’s not normal is that one of the eggs was slightly moving! Not wanting to leave this late bloomer behind, we corralled her and the 11 ducklings back to the nest, hoping she’d notice the egg and help it out. But after a few more hours, still nothing happened and she was ready to leave again, so we moved on.
Again we had to stop her from going to the neighbour’s pool, and in that process, a duckling got stuck in a fence unbeknownst to us, slowing down the trip as Corina was adamant about not leaving. I eventually located it and pulled it free, and after gathering the babies into a box yet again, we began the walk to the creek. Because it was a lot later in the day than last year, we did have more of an audience. We had to stop traffic to get her across a busy road, we crossed paths with a mom and four young kids on a walk who were delighted to see such a thing, and shoutout to the guy who was about to walk his dog but hung back once he saw us.
Eventually we got to the creek and let them all go, and just like last year, they all happily swam away. Then we went home, and I went back to work while my dad cleaned out what was left of the nest. The fact that Corina was willing to leave that egg twice means it probably wasn’t ever going to be viable, so I’m glad we tried, but there wasn’t much else we could do.
And that’s it, really. Aside from not sleeping a full night for the three weeks she was there all day and night, she was pretty manageable this year, but I think it’s because we knew what to expect. I think we’ve resigned to our fate of being the Duck House every spring now, so see ya next year, I suppose! I hope Corina and the ducklings are doing okay in the wild, and I’m glad we got to be a part of their life.
That’s all for now!