We have been enjoying the very unique personalities of several domestic ducks. It all began with a few barnyard-mix ducklings in 2021. In 2022, two Magpie-Cayuga ducklings followed. A number of them were males, so we found them loving new homes where they have been enjoying their own flocks of duck-ladies.
At the end of this summer, we had one female (Sunny) and one male (Magnum) left. For the second time in her life, Sunny was in the process of laying eggs, and for the second time in my life, I was collecting those eggs. Sunny did not want to accept the fate I had chosen for her – that is, not to have ducklings in late fall. I kept reminding her that it is much more sensible to raise her young when summer was approaching, and not when winter is around the corner. She paid no heed. Instead, she faithfully stuck to her nest which was well padded with her own down feathers, and the straw I had provided. She also rounded up a number of rocks that were roughly the size of her eggs, and she sat on them. One day, I was gone for a few hours, and the ducks were in their fenced in area as usual. When I came back, Sunny was nowhere to be found. My heart sank, when I remembered to check inside the duck coop. Sure enough, she was there, sitting on her nest. That was when I decided to give one egg back to her so she could follow her calling. It was September 21.
Sunny then was sitting on her nest for more than 23 hours in every 24-hour period. Magnum was sitting next to her nest for the same times. I left food and water in their duck coop. Once a day, I saw them going outside to frolic in their splash-pool for a bit and forage for insects in the grass.
Last Saturday, October 15, when I tucked them in for the night, I had a chance to inspect the egg, and I saw a tiny hole. Quickly, I put the egg back in the nest and spent a fearful night. Would the duckling be able to hatch? The next morning, when I walked into the duck-coop, I was greeted by a still wet duckling. By the time I had my camera ready, Sunny had covered up her little hatchling, and she was hissing at me preventively. My offering of cooked peas was graciously accepted.
On day two, the duckling – we named it Rocksie – was sitting next to Sunny, and we were allowed to hold it briefly, before giving it back to its mother, where it disappeared under the warm feathers.
I keep thinking what a miracle it is that we have been witnessing.
Question: Where have you last experienced the magic of nature?
Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness and Nature Coach