Here’s a mother — or at least an expectant one — who made sure she’d have plenty of flowers on Mother’s Day, building her nest of pine needles under this budding bush.
I came across her Sunday while visiting my own mom, who has a view of the nesting duck from her living room window and reports that’s she’s been dutifully sitting atop her eggs — about ten of them — for weeks now.
It’s baby duck season at Arbor Acres, the retirement community in which my mother lives, where residents eagerly await the appearance of the year’s first ducklings.
Nobody’s sure who the father is, but many suspect it’s the fellow to the left — he of the poofy hairdo – who is well-known for his amorous behavior and apparently considers himself quite the ladies man.
Then again, if I had hair like that, maybe I would, too.
He is believed to have fathered many of the baby ducks that were born last year, and indications are he’s at it again.
Yesterday, as the nesting mother sat atop her eggs, amid the blooming flowers, it appeared to me — though I’m better at interpreting dog behavior than duck behavior — that poofy head had moved on to new interests.
A new generation of Woestenducks entered the world Saturday, when the eggs laid by the duck named after my mother cracked open and at least eight — maybe more — ducklings emerged.
I was visiting Arbor Acres, the duck-crazy retirement community where my mother lives, and by the time I left that evening, eight of the eggs had hatched, and four more were about to, according to Bo Bowers, a resident who monitored the nest all day long from a nearby folding chair.
It was Bo who, when the Arbor Acres flock was dwindling last year, ordered 16 ducklings of various breeds, raised them in cages at his home until they were old enough to survive on their own, then released the newcomers — each named after a resident of the community — into the Arbor Acres pond.
The duck named after my mother was the first one to become pregnant. She built herself a nest of pine needles in which to lay her eggs under an azalea bush just outside the window of my mother’s room.
Bo counted 13 eggs in her nest last week, but when he later found one had been stolen and destroyed, apparently by a crow, he saw a need for increased vigilance.
He put a little fence around the nest, then watched and waited all Saturday — getting up from time to time to chase off the geese and other ducks who approached.
Once all the ducklings emerged, Bo gently gathered them, placed them in a box and took them home, ensuring that, for the next six weeks, they won’t become the victims of predators. Those include coyote, fox, crows, herons and at least one good-sized turtle who lives in the pond and, attacking from below, is believed to have pulled a few baby ducklings, bobbing along behind their mothers, into its depths.
On Saturday, I stepped outside my mother’s room and asked Bo how many eggs he was sitting on, and whether he’d like to borrow my tent for the night. Despite my teasing, he let me get close enough to take a picture.
Mother duck sat firmly on her nest, protecting the unhatched eggs, and making sure none of the ducklings ventured off. I was able to see one who poked its head out (that’s it under the hosta leaf, in the bottom right corner of the picture atop this post).
As news of the births spread, the crowd grew outside the window of my mother’s room. Other residents, staff and even a security official showed up to take a look.
Bo was still sitting sentry when I left. One could argue that he’s interfering with that whole “survival of the fittest” thing. But (being not particularly fit) I’ve never been a big fan of that. Besides, Bo, having brought the ducks to Arbor Acres, feels more than a little responsibility for them, and the second generation they are producing. He sees nothing wrong with giving them a headstart — at least until they’re big enough to avoid the snapping jaws of the turtle that lurks beneath.
I agree. Long live the Woestenducks.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, arbor acres, assist, birth, bo bowers, dog's country, dogscountry, ducklings, ducks, eggs, guarding, hatched, headstart, helping hand, jo woestendiek, nature, north carolina, predators, road trip, sentry, survival of the fittest, travels with ace, wildlife, winston-salem, woestenducks
If that one got you all worked up — what with all that high energy and yapping — here’s one to calm you down again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baby duck, behavior, dog, dogs, duck, ducks, ducks and dogs, funny, interaction, interspecies, pets, terrier, video
Other than Ace’s periodic visits, there’s probably nothing residents of Arbor Acres — a retirement community in Winston-Salem — like better than the ducks that waddle and swim in and around the large pond that graces the acreage.
Actually, even though Ace has some pretty big time fans there, the ducks probably rate higher – at least in the eyes of some residents, including my own mother (that’s her to the left, explanation to follow). She, I think it’s safe to say, prefers watching ducks outside her window to having a dog inside her room.
On at least one occasion, she harbored some fugitive newborn ducks who, like all newborn ducks, needed a little protection from the bigger creatures, like foxes and turtles, who tend to snatch them away.
Because of that, the duck population at Arbor Acres sometimes dwindles down to a precious few, and the residents who like to watch them, feed them, and sometimes name them, worry about losing the closest thing many of them have to pets.
(Dogs are allowed there, but only a handful of residents have them.)
Instead, most often, they enjoy the animals nature provides, the ducks, the geese, the fish in the pond and the two blue herons that call the area around the pond home for much of the year.
Sometimes though, even nature needs a hand.
And that’s where Bo Bowers came in.
Bo, who moved into the community in March, brought with him some duck-raising skills, and when the duck census recently dropped he made a deal with the administration — if they provided materials to build the pens, he’d buy some baby ducks and raise them until they were big enough to survive on their own.
He ordered 16 baby ducklings — of five different breeds — through a catalog. They were 12 days old when they were delivered, and he started feeding them in the 4-foot by 12-foot cage, complete with swimming pool, set up behind his home.
Last month, in a ceremony attended by many residents, he “launched” his babies, releasing them into the pond as residents, staff and at least one TV news outfit looked on. Many of the ducks, by then, had been named after residents, including one named Jo, after my mother.
Bowers has been raising fowl — including some blue ribbon winners — almost his whole life, he said. “They are like my children.”
Wake up early enough and you can see Bowers, tall and gangly, striding down a sidewalk with the still-growing ducks following him. He puts out food, talks to them, takes a count to make sure everyone’s still there.
Two of the ducks are of a breed called white crested.
They have tufts of feathers on their head, like bouffant hairdos — quackfros, we called them. There are black ones, brown ones and silvery blue ones, and, diverse group that they are, they all, after several weeks, still hang together – a pack, as it were.
At least two residents warned me to keep Ace away from the ducks, though he has little interest other than watching them.
I’m pretty sure dogs don’t rule at Arbor Acres. Ducks do.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, aging, animals, arbor acres, community, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, ducks, ducky, herons, nature, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, photography, pond, retirement, road trip, wildlife, winston-salem
A California man was treated and released after being shot in the back by his dog.
The unidentified 53-year-old man was hunting in Merced County when he set the safety on his loaded shotgun and put it on the ground while he grabbed his decoy ducks, according to the Fresno Bee.
Merced County sheriff’s officials say the hunter’s black Lab stepped on the loaded shotgun, causing the safety to release and the gun to fire.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, back, bizarre, black lab, california, dog, dogs, ducks, game, hunt, hunter, hunting, lab, labrador retriever, merced, news, pets, sheriff, shoots, shot, shotgun, weird