The Empty Nest

Empty nest 004

Remember Millie, the Sidewalk House puddle duck? When Millie began sitting on eggs in the wall planter for the second time this season, we estimated her due date to be around July 3. Last week we noticed signs that time was near so we kept a close eye ~ so hoping to finally see ducklings. July 6, Wednesday evening ~ while Millie was off on her daily break, the eggs were still intact. Wednesday night, when we checked at bed time, Millie was still sitting.

Have I mentioned that we are fostering one of our granddogs while her peeps move back to Germany for a year or so? Her name is Charley and she is a beautiful golden retriever. Over the past week or so, Charley has walked past Millie sitting on the nest. She looks neither left nor right, just straight down the steps, focused on her walk. Ah! But not Thursday morning.

One paw out the door and Charley lunged straight for the nest. How did she know? Sharp golden retriever instincts? A flusher of the highest order? There sat Millie in the nest with her ducklings all around her. Good thing Ken had a strong hold on the leash and convinced Charley to continue on their morning walk.

With each brood, we learn more about Mallards and their offspring. After the last brood, we found that the ducklings leave the nest in less than 24 hours of hatching. No wonder we never saw babies in the past!

By the time Ken and his dog returned, the ducklings were out of sight. Millie was sitting ~ perhaps a little lopsided but still sitting.

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Hoping that once she realized danger had passed and she would allow the babies back out, Ken put Charley inside the house and grabbed his camera. Millie agreed to few close ups but she was not about to move off her brood.

Not until we loaded the pictures into the computer did we see the head. A tiny duckling head peeking out from under Momma.

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By the time we left for work, less than an hour later, Millie and her brood were gone. The only sign that they had been there? an empty nest. . . made of down plucked from her breast feathers mixed with the coconut fiber she pulled from our planter liner and a few shell fragments. It blows my mind how those barely hatched babies can survive a jump out of a nest so high.

We don’t know how many ducklings Millie hatched. Ken had all he could do to contain Charley’s enthusiasm. We are grateful for another healthy brood. But now I must replace the liner and get it planted pronto! Do mallards have a third brood in a season? We are not going to wait to find out. Hugs y’all! Jackie






One Response to The Empty Nest

  1. vicky July 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

    That is such a good story😃

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