Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My, my, the newborn mallards

Courtney next door phoned me early one morning. A mallard had nested in a planter on her deck, laid 11 eggs, and now they were hatching. I grabbed a cup of coffee and went over to watch with her through her kitchen window. The first four chicks got out and the mom floated off with them. A few of the eggs didn’t hatch, but the rest of the newborn chicks were stuck! The dirt was too low and the pot was smooth plastic and they couldn’t get themselves out.

Three did projectile leaps but two landed upside down (see photo) and couldn’t get right-sided up. After watching them struggle awhile, Courtney righted them; they jumped in the water and headed off to meet up with the mom and siblings, who were moving toward the other side of the moorage walkway in the backwater.

The rest were still stuck inside the pot. With continued misgivings about interfering with nature (but they were, after all, born in a human’s deck planter) we decided Courtney would keep an eye on the new floaters and I would rescue the remaining chicks in the pot. They jumped in the water, chirping. But, oh, they got trapped behind the chicken wire under the Hekkers’ houseboat next door. I was amazed to see these newborns immediately start eating the vegetation growing on the float logs.

To make a long story short (we watched all this happen over a two-hour time frame), the newborn chicks, chirping, and mom chirping too, on their own found their way under the other houseboats, under and around the moorage walkway and pipes, and the tenderhouses to reach the other side and reunite with mom and siblings.

Later the mallard had a second nesting, and this time Courtney built a dirt “stairs” inside the planter, and a set of wooden stairs on the outside. She watched as that hatch of mallards used the dirt to get out of the pot and on their merry way.