Well, this mama duck managed to master the nesting thing and on Monday, hatched two fuzzy black ducklings. It was exciting, but we were apprehensive at the same time. Would she know what to do next? Would they get enough food? Would they be warm enough?
We watched them carefully on Monday and Tuesday, bringing water and some ground duck pellets out to the duck house each day. On Wednesday, she ventured forth with her brood. A bit of drama ensued. Mama duck took the little ones out for a swim, and then proceeded to take them to one of her favorite spots for sitting: the pond's overflow grate. Her spatial relationship skills proved even more suspect than her parenting skills, as one of the ducklings fell through the grate! There was much flapping and panicked quacking, which fortunately caught Chris' attention. He realized what had happened, went into the woods behind the pond, crawled through a wet and spidery culvert, retrieved the little fella, and reunited it with mama duck (all this was even more remarkable given that Chris is all trussed up in a contraption designed to heal a broken clavicle ... but that's another story!).
All seemed well from that point. Mama took her little ones out during the day, and retired to the safety of the duck house in the early evening. On Friday night we went out to visit the little ones and enjoyed watching them splash about. But in the middle of the night, we heard a lot of panicked quacking coming from all 8 ducks. This chorus is usually reserved for really scary and threatening situations. In the morning, the ducks were all clustered together on the grate. But the ducklings were gone.
I know the deck is stacked against ducklings born this time of year, since they are unlikely to reach a suitable body weight before the weather gets cold. But they were so cute and fluffy. It's sad.