Make it a dozen … 13? … more?

Baby duck 1 for web

Yesterday I announced the arrival of the new ducklings (pictures of the newly hatched are in the post below), saying that I thought Peeps, the mom, had managed to produce “about 10.” This was already quite a lot more ducks than I thought I had invited to this party.

But you know, it’s hard to count ducklings. They move around, they hide underneath mom, behind each other …

little ducks 8 for web

So what do you think? I count at least 13. Maybe 14. Ducklings, ducklings, and more ducklings. Oh my.

This one’s not worried …

little duck 2 for web

The ducklings hatched on August 11. They made their first brief appearance outside of the nest yesterday, the 12th. The photo below shows them starting to explore the area around the nest. I brought them water in an old dog bowl, and the day-old duckies immediately jumped in. Even at that age, they know they were born to be tub toys.

little ducks 2 for web

little ducks 3 for web

That metal thing is part of an old antenna that came down during the big hurricane a few years back. I put it in there because I thought the Muscovies (which are perching ducks) might want to perch on it, but they never do.

little ducks 4 for web

As of today Peeps is taking them for long strolls around the duck enclosure, which is a big hoop house covered with chicken wire and shaded by an ancient grapevine. There are so many ducklings that it sometimes looks as though she’s being carried along on a yellow, fluffy wave.

little ducks 5 for web

I like that portrait of mom and (some of) the kids.

little ducks 6 for web

The photo above shows them visiting the area where the rest of the ducks get their food and water.

And here’s mom teaching them how to hunt for food. Unlike songbirds that are sheltered in the nest until they can fly, and fed by their parents throughout that time, ducklings feed themselves from day one.

little ducks 7 for web

little ducks 9 for web

The rest of the family is pretty bored with the whole thing. In the photo below, that’s the dad on the right. Hide, Peeps’s mother, is in front. She hatched four eggs only about a month ago, and those are her kids behind her. Yes, they do grow up fast.

The one on the left is Duck, Hide’s sister. She sat on six eggs for two months (they usually hatch after 35 days) but didn’t hatch one. (This may help to explain why I’m a little stunned by the size of Peeps’s brood.) When Hide hatched her four, Duck abandoned her unhatched eggs and started helping to take care of Hide's brood. Hey, it takes a flock.

the rest of the duck family for the web

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