My three juvenile Khaki Campbell’s were put out to roam for the very first time this weekend. I worried mostly that they wouldn’t know where to go in at night because for all their little lives I’ve carried them back and forth from grazing pen to the barn in a Rubbermaid tub. So early one morning I put them into the duck enclosure while the Harlequin were lazily sleeping-in inside the duck barn. The Campbell’s weren’t sure what to do with themselves at first but found the little pond in the enclosure and set up shop. When the Welsh Harlequin came out and saw these strange ducks in their pond they chased the Campbell’s out of it. Those little KC’s were determined to make friends with their new found barn-mates and were undeterred by the wing flapping and squawking. The Harlequin were not overly mean but certainly didn’t think they needed any new additions to their little group. So when they set off to forage out on the property the determined Campbell’s waddled along behind. Soon they were accepted at the lunch table with the cool kids... but at the bottom of the pecking order. They still won’t go in the duck barn by themselves yet. It seems like the Harlequin have made it known that the duck barn is their domain, but there is soooo much room in there! The Campbell’s can have half all to themselves, for goodness sake. So every night I gather up my little brown ducks and stuff them in the pop-hole to sleep in the in safety with the others. Eventually they’ll get it figured out.
The Muscovy have become even more friendly… when I sit on the ground out in the barnyard taking pictures they come right up, almost in my lap, to see what I’m doing. I was surprised a few times because I had my eye up to the viewfinder and didn’t see them all sneak up on me. They’re probably looking for a treat! I came out with some wilted asparagus the other day and as I was tossing sticks of asparagus to them they were running over to get some and stealing it from each other. Poor things… that stuff was wilted but it still has such a tough outer skin that they had to chew and chew and chew.
I’ve got my eye on three Muscovy that I’d like to keep for my own flock. The whole group is friendly and extremely curious but some of them are genuine characters and a couple of the girls are very pretty. One of the really big boys likes to eat the feed right out of the bucket when I’m filling the feeders. So I pour some in the feeder, then hold out the bucket for him to grab a few mouthfuls, then fill the other feeders. He follows me around and it’s like “one for me, one for the rest of you jokers”. He likes to be petted too… he’s pretty cute so I’ll probably keep him.
I lost a juvenile Harlequin drake and a Muscovy duck to aerial predators this week while I was at work. Either a very large hawk or an eagle, based on the size and weight of the ducks. It’s very sad when this happens and it really freaks the other ducks out. They all stayed inside for the better part of 2 days after the attack but they’re finally back out free ranging cautiously. Though the Muscovy are sticking very close to the barn and trying to stay out of the open. The dogs are very good at keeping the ground predators away; I’ve never had trouble with birds of prey during the day so this is new to the dogs. I know blue jays, robins, and crows are great at keeping the airspace clear of aerial hunters so I’ll need to be sure to provide plenty of feed for those birds too. Having geese and turkeys usually works well also, maybe I should hang on to those 2 sweet American Lavender-ice geese…