At just shy of three
weeks old, our ducklings are starting to look a bit like miniature ducks
rather than like baby fuzzballs, but everyone agrees they’re still
awfully cute. In fact, now that the youngsters are spending a bit
more time on land, I can’t help thinking how much the ducklings resemble
tiny penguins, with their upright posture, fur-like feathers, and tiny
wings. The duckling in the photo above is flapping its wings —
can you even tell?
Our duck flock did lose a little bit of its ultra-easy charm at two and a half weeks old, though, when the birds started nibbling on strawberries.
I moved them to a kiddie pool about twenty feet away, but that sterile
water wasn’t nearly as interesting as the pond they’d left behind, so
the ducklings kept making a run for the wild water despite a
thunderstorm that was keeping all of our self-respecting chickens
inside. I ended up having to erect some temporary fencing to cage the ducklings into a paddock so they’d stay put.
After that, the little
flock settled back down, although they have been spending more time on
land grazing now that their water is devoid of life. I was
surprised to see that they actually seem to be more
prone to peck apart plants than chickens are — I usually let chicks
have free run of the raspberry bushes at this age, but the ducklings had
to be fenced out since they were consuming too much leaf matter.
On the plus side, the
ducklings come out of their brooder each morning in a rush to catch all
of the craneflies that settled on the lawn overnight. These
insects, which resemble huge mosquitoes, are very evident at this time
of year since they’re mating, and the ducks are glad to collect the
bounty. I haven’t seen any of our chickens similarly engaged, so
perhaps ducks do beat chickens in the insect-foraging department…at
least when it comes to craneflies.