Sunday, June 26, 2011

Driveway Ducklings

One of the first duck families I saw this year.

Last summer I saw one set of ducklings. The rest stayed safely hidden away in the towering grasses and reeds of the prairie sloughs. This year everything is different. As has been mentioned a time or two, this has been a somewhat dampish spring and the water is high. One additional result of all this water is the grass has never been able to keep pace with the rise of the water. Sloughs that were mere puddles choked with reeds before are large, glassy pools.

The ducks nest anyway, and their babies are finally hatching in the last couple of weeks. I suppose it is bad news for the ducklings, because they're much more exposed to predators this year, but it's been such fun for me to watch all of them. The first family I saw was right at dusk and all I could make out was the silhouette of the world's first dachshund duck. It had a normal size duck head, but its body stretched out behind is a good extra foot. Since then, I have seen baby water fowl of every variety. Except maybe coots. They've had a hard time of it.

Coots nest by raking together pond flotsam, and while there was LOTS of that this year, there were no reeds to shelter their fragile structures from the wild winds. I know of one determined coot that's rebuilt her nest about 10 times now. I hope she succeeds in the end, because she's certainly put in the effort!

My most favority part of all this is a cluster of baby ducks that hatched in the swamp alongside my own driveway. They are so cute, but I do have to keep Ferocious Finley, the Duck Destroyer inside most of the time now. I don't need him proudly retrieving a bunch of little dead ducklings and expecting me to be happy! I would be very cranky.

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