THE DUCK SIDE OF THE SIMS FAMILY


April 16, 1997

4

DAYS (Estimated) and NOT COUNTING!?!
The count stopped at 9:55pm on Monday, April 14!


Sunday, March 9, 1997: We discovered one, then two mallard ducks in our swimming pool. We have lived in this house with this pool for nearly 18 years, and had never seen a duck in the pool.


Tuesday, March 11: Mary noticed two eggs in a nest under a small evergreen tree next to the pool.

Sunday, March 16: Danno is showing the general area, by which time there were 6 eggs.



Friday, March 21: We could now count 9 eggs. We observed what looked like the beginning of Mother Duck's incubation period. However, she left about 7:30am and, to our knowledge, did not return. You can barely see Mother Duck below


Saturday, March 22: Mother Duck was again on the nest before 6am. She stayed there until 3:20pm, when she, for no known reason, left. We took a quick look at and photo of the eggs. The duck on the nest is nearly impossible to see unless you stand right next to the nest, bend over and peer into the nest. So, I set up a closed-circuit TV system today, with the camera on the opposite side of the pool, with the display on my computer in the house. We had six visitors today to observe our closed-circuit TV set-up: Dan Sims and a co-worker Chris McWilliams, and Kevin, Melia, and grand-daughter Dani Malone.


Sunday, March 23: Mother Duck was again on the nest by our first look at 7am. She stayed there unitl 5:20pm. At this time, she hopped into the pool for a five-minute swim/stretch/bath/etc. Then she jumped out on the side of the pool opposite her nest location. Another five minutes of preening or whatever, then she flew off. At 6:30, she flew back into the pool. After a short swim, she jumped out on the non-nest side again, preened herself for a couple minutes, and jumped back into the pool. After about five minutes of swimming around, mostly near the nest, she jumped out and settled back onto the nest. We had six visitors to observe our closed-circuit TV set-up today: Mary's parents Dan and Ruth Finn, neighbors Larry and Bettye Davis, and John and Clare Davis.

Monday, March 24: Mary heard quacks at 3:30am this morning. She got up to check, and in the bright full moon could see the duck swimming around. Mary went back to bed at 3:45, waking me up. I got up to watch. She climbed out of the pool two times on the opposite side from her nest. Then, back onto her nest at 4:05am. The duck was on the nest when we got up at 6:15am. Again, the duck left the nest at 5:20pm, the same time as yesterday, swam a bit, then flew off. She returned at 6:15pm, swam a bit and hopped back to her nest. She is still there as of 10:15pm.

Tuesday, March 25: Rain today. "Nice weather for a duck" took on new meaning. Mother Duck left sometime between 3:15pm and 4:45pm but returned at 6:05pm. Usually when she flies in, she swims around a while, jumps out on the opposite side, swims some more, then, before jumping out to go back to the nest, she cuts back and forth quickly maybe a dozen times in the water just below the nest before jumping out and entering the nest. This tme, however, after landing in the pool, she zipped straight to the area of the nest and jumped out and entered the nest right away. On the technology front, we now have two video cameras in use, one zoomed in on the nest only, with the other one showing a panaramic view of the pool and deck, so we can keep track of her whereever she is when she's "home." With the Picture-in-Picture feature on our TV, we can watch both scenes at once. If only we had Infrared/Night Vision cameras, ... .

Wednesday, March 26: Duck left nest for about an hour at 6:30am. Left again for 16 minutes at 5:39pm. We got good video of her waddling out of the nest and jumping into the pool, swimming around the pool, and talking flight. Mary ran out the front door to try to see where whe went. She flew very low and quick over our house, and below the roof tops between two houses across the street to the south. No water close that way. I had planned to mow the back yard quickly while she was gone, but didn't even get started. I again saw the male lounging around the pool in the yard to our east, although we haven't seen him in our yard since the first egg.

Thursday, March 27: Mrs. Duck was not on her nest when Mary got up at 6:30am. But, Mrs. Duck, and MR. DUCK both flew in about 7:15am. I got some good video of both of them. As soon as Mom mounted the nest, Dad left. Mary had gone to work and missed all this. I was anxious to show her the video when I got home from work, but she was just as excited to tell me that Mr. and Mrs. Duck had both flown in after Mrs. Duck's late afternoon break. Mr. Duck again left, after Mrs. Duck mounted the nest, before I got home. This is the first time we have seeen Mr. Duck in our yard since the first two eggs appeared. However, we have seen Mr. Duck in the back yard/pool next door.

Friday, March 28: No ducks here between 6:30am and 7:30am, but Mrs. Duck was on her nest when Mary got home from work about 1pm. She left about 5:25pm, and returned about 5:35pm, with her mate. I stood on the patio and shot video of them until Dad left at 5:59pm, and Mom jumped back onto the nest.

Saturday, March 29: Mrs. Duck's schedule similar to the last several days, but no Mr. Duck in the morning or evening. We had a number of visitors to Duckville today, neighbors Shirley Greenfield, Harry and Louise Umstead, and Dorothy Randle. We learned today that Harry, across the street, has for some time been placing food out in his back yard for these two ducks, as well as some other birds, including doves and martins. So, the mystery has been solved on where the ducks go when they leave our pool, particularly in the late afternoons. In fact, on Thursday and Friday late afternoon departures, we had observed Mother Duck fly low across our roof, across the street, and low to the left of the Umstead's house one night, and low to the right of their house the next night. Now it all fits together. And Harry is providing the maize for the ducks which they process and deposit into our pool.

Sunday, March 30: Schedule similar to recent days. Mr. Duck showed up in evening, but not morning. One first-time visitor, neighbor Mrs. Fenley, who brought over an ornately-decorated, candy egg for granddaughter Dani, while Dani was gathering plastic Easter eggs in the front yard.

Monday, March 31: Nothing significant to report.

Tuesday, April 1: Only significantly different item to report is that Mrs. Duck did not leave the nest at all during the late afternoon or early evening, at least before dark. Dani came over to check out the nest with her grandpa.



Wednesday, April 2: Mr. Duck came by to pick up Mrs. Duck at 4:30p for a 30 minute trip.

Thursday, April 3: Mrs. Duck left in am but did not leave in pm.

Friday, April 4: Rain caused Mrs. Duck to spend hours rebuilding nest. She stuffed more leaves and pine needles under the eggs and rolled the eggs to new positions to raise their level above the wetter ground.

Saturday, April 5: A sunny day. Papa duck visited the pool in the afternoon. He swam around and quacked some, but Momma duck didn't stir. Papa flew off. After 15 minutes or so, Momma duck did her pool stretch and cleaning biz. Then she took off over the roof. She returned in less than five minutes.

Sunday, April 6: Mrs. Duck left about 4:30pm and returned with Mr. Duck about 5pm.

Monday, April 7: Mrs. Duck left about 4:30pm, and returned about 4:45pm, alone.

Tuesday, April 8: Mrs. Duck left about 6:40pm. I hurried around to the alley behind the house across the street to see if I could see where the ducks eat. Couldn't see any ducks. But, the playground was occupied with over 100 kids with parents and coaches, practicing soccer and baseball, so there was a lot of noise and commotion. I hurried back to the back of my back yard where I sat quietly on the back of the diving board, with Mary on the patio, where we hoped for the first time to observe the duck(s) landing in the pool in our presence. Mrs. Duck came back about 10 minutes later. We didn't seem to have bothered her, although she didn't do much playing around in the pool before climbing back onto the nest. While she was gone, I peeked at the nest and could clearly see the 9 eggs.

Wednesday, April 9: Nothing new.

Thursday, April 10: Mrs. Duck left nest about 4:35pm. I got my camcorder ready, went out to the back of the back yard, planted myself on the backend of the diving board, and waited for the return. FINALLY, Mr. & Mrs. Duck returned about 5:39pm. Got some good close-up video of them in and around the pool, including their twin landings, which was towards the south, away from me. Mrs. Duck re-entered the nest about 5:50pm, and Mr. Duck flew off about five minutes later. That diving board sure got hard!

Friday, April 11: Mrs. Duck left nest at 5:15pm. She and Mr. Duck returned, flying south to north at 5:45pm. Mrs. Duck re-entered nest after about five minutes of preening. The Mister left very shortly thereafter.

Saturday, April 12: Mrs. Duck left nest at 5:15pm. I hurried to the alley behind the house across the street, where she allegedly dines, to await her arrival. She landed a couple minutes later, in the middle of that alley. After walking in a puddle in the alley, then onto some grass across the alley, she took off after about three minutes, flying towards our house. But, when I got home, she wasn't here, nor could I see her in the neighbor's pool. She came back to our pool about 6:15pm, and quickly re-entered the nest. Never saw Mr. Duck.

Sunday, April 13: Nothing new.

Monday, April 14:

At 5:20am: We were awakened by steady, loud quacking. After a few minutes of this, we get up to check. In the moonlight, we can see Mrs. Duck standing on the opposite side of the pool from her nest. Still quacking. We can't see much else in the dark. Finally, we go out with a flashlight to examine things, hoping to see maybe a duckling in trouble. But, we instead see several clumps of feathers in the pool, and, sadly, two broken eggs. Looks like there had been a struggle. Couldn't tell for sure whether the feathers in the pool were hers or some other bird. Could see no sign of a cat, the other logical predator. Mrs. Duck quit quacking and didn't seem disturbed by our presence. We went back to bed. Then, she started quacking again, but not as vigorously. After a few more minutes of this, we got up again. I decided to remove the two broken eggs from the nest area, in the dark, while she couldn't see it well. It was a choice of our deciding whether she would be disturbed more by two missing eggs or by two broken eggs.

At 6:45am, while up preparing to go to work, we look out and observe an animal in the back yard. I open the patio door to shoo it away. In the dim, dawn light, it appears to be a RACCOON! It is out by the diving board, in possession of an egg. I shoo it off. I'd never seen a raccoon in our neighborhood, but they have possibly been around. When I check the nest, I see remnants of six more broken eggs, leaving only one good egg. Bloody remnants of at least two unborn ducklings are along the pool deck. Of these two, one looked like a duckling nearly ready to be hatched, while the other looked pretty much like a large egg yolk. Sad!!! Mary noticed that Mrs. Duck, mostly standing along the edge of the pool, seems to have a crippled right leg. Although she does walk, it is with a limp. When she is standing, much of the time it is on only the left leg. I've observed Mrs. Duck twice so far jump in, swim across the pool, and go to the nest, pick up an egg shell, take it into the pool, swim back across the pool, drop the shell, then climb out. Mr. Duck showed up for about 10 minutes, at about 7:35am. I want to go out and clean up some of the mess, but don't want to disturb Mrs. Duck any more, although she hasn't seemed at all bothered by our comings and goings this morning. I have gone out now and skimmed maybe a half dozen egg shells from the bottom of the pool. I've got to get to work. Mrs. Duck continues to enter and leave the nest. Maybe? she will continue to try to hatch that final egg?

At 8:30am, as I must leave for work, it appears that she IS sitting on that last egg!!!

At 8:55am, after setting up the VCR to record the full pool view for a full 6 hours, I did head for work. As I actually left home, Mrs. Duck was standing again at the side of the pool.

At 1:00pm, Mary got home and took over the duck watch.

At 5:30pm, Mary and I started viewing the entire tape, in fast forward mode most of the time. We estimated that Mrs. Duck was actually sitting on the nest less than 2 of the preceding 10 hours, spending most of the remainder of the time on the deck at various places around the pool, with less than an hour in the water. She did not leave the back yard.

At 5:50pm, Mrs. Duck flew off. While she was gone, Mary checked out the nest, now nicely rearranged, and observed TWO eggs, not just the one egg noted earlier. Mrs. Duck returned about 6:15pm.

Fearing that the raccoon might be back sometime after dark, I accepted the offer of a neighbor's BB gun, in hopes that I might be able to scare it off, hopefully permanently. Additionally, the neighbor gave me a can of maize from his bag which he uses to feed the ducks when they regularly visit his house. I placed a couple handsfull of the maize in front of her nest. She quickly came out and ate most of it.

At 8:10pm, just as it was getting dark, Mrs. Duck surprisingly flew off again, strangely taking off from the deck right in front of her nest.

As of 9:30pm, Mary checks and sees that Mrs. Duck is not back, but the two eggs are still there. Despite all the work Mrs. Duck did in redoing the nest, we wonder if she will be back. I've rigged up, for at least the early evening. a microphone/transmitter by the nest which I can monitor in the house to hopefully hear any possible commotion.

At 9:55pm: Jim checked the nest again. Remnants of the final two eggs were lying 5 feet from the nest! Despite the fact that I had the earphone from the the monitor in my ear, and I'd heard a far away train's whistle in that last half hour, I heard nothing from the nest. Perhaps Mrs. Duck had already given up on the eggs, and did not feel safe staying there after nightfall again.

Tuesday, April 15: No ducks all last night nor today. However, Mr. and Mrs Duck showed up at 6:40pm for about 25 minutes. Mrs. Duck stood on the edge of the pool near her nest and ate some of the maize put out for her last night. One of the ducks left a deposit in the pool.
Tonight, Jim placed three of granddaughter Dani's plastic Easter eggs in the nest. set up a bright light and a camcorder aimed at the nest area and we are looking to see if the raccoon shows up again. We still have the BB gun.

Wednesday, April 16: No sign of Rocky Raccoon last night. Since both ducks visited twice today, about 7am and 5:45pm, Mary removed the plastic Easter eggs from the nest, to avoid confusion.

More to come??