Flock Friday for August 16

Welcome to another Flock Friday, my weekly update on our ducks and chickens.

Let’s start with the ducks. Here they are on our pond, with Bert, the male Buff, flapping his wings:

Duck flapping wings

You can see the green sheen on Gill’s black feathers:

Ducks

A little closer:

Ducks

By the duck house ramp:

Ducks by ramp

On the ramp (with the duck house sign visible):

Ducks on ramp

Inside the duck house, eating:

Ducks eating

A rapid egress due to a random freak out:

Rapid egress

Ducks resting on the pond bank:

Ducks on bank

Closer:

Ducks on bank

Ducks and fish in the pond, shortly before sunset; those ripples aren’t rain, but fish going for food:

Ducks and fish in pond

Ducks at dusk:

Ducks in pond

On to the chicks; they are getting so big, but still not fully grown, and still peeping instead of clucking:

Chicks

Chick

Chicks

Chicks

And the older chickens, enjoying treats:

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Finally, some fluffy butts:

Chickens

Flock Friday for August 9

It’s Friday… you know what that means!

The ducks in one of their favorite spots, next to the duck house:

Ducks next to duck house

Eating inside the duck house:

Ducks eating

Treats for ducks and fish:

Treats for ducks and fish

Treats for ducks and fish

They don’t go on the south bank very often; a bit harder to get up there:

Ducks on the pond bank

Wing stretch:

Wing stretch

Treats on the pond bank:

Treats on the pond bank

On the pond edge next to the duck house:

On the pond edge

One of the feral cats checked out the ducks. Hard to see, but she’s on top of the big rock behind the ducks:

Cat on the rock by the ducks

I went out there when I saw that. I don’t know whether or not a cat would attack a duck, but I figured I’d be sad if she did and I didn’t go out. She left when I approached. I suspect that a cat wouldn’t go after a duck unless desperate, especially when they’re together and alert, but better safe than sorry.

Swimming underwater:

Swimming underwater

Did you see the YouTube video of ducks swimming underwater?  Quite impressive!

I moved the mobile cam to the rock by the duck house, for a better vantage point. In due course I’ll add a permanent cam, once I figure out the ideal location. Peeking at the camera:

Peeking

Flappiing wings:

Flappiing wings

Just one picture of the older chickens this time, inside their coop. Here Merida is eating from the top of the second feeder:

Chicken eating from top of feeder

Chicks eating in their coop:

Chicks eating

Chicks eating

Finally, a couple more pictures of most of the chicks; they’re getting so big!

Chicks

Chicks

Flock Friday for August 2

Welcome to another Flock Friday!

Let’s start with the ducks. Here they are resting on the pond bank:

Ducks resting on the pond bank

I mucked out the duck house, removing the paint tray wading pool, now that the ducks can go outside. Since they now spend almost all of their time outside (including overnight), just coming in to eat, I shouldn’t need to muck it out anywhere near as often, which will be nice:

Ducks in the house

I love having ducks on the pond. It’s a joy to see them through the trees as I approach the pond:

Ducks through the trees

Just swimming around:

Ducks in the pond

Going for mealworm treats:

Ducks going for treats

Duck on the ramp:

Duck on the ramp

One thing I didn’t consider was that giving ducks their treats and feeding the koi at the same time can be problematic; the fish swim around the ducks, disturbing them, and the ducks eat the koi food once they’ve polished off their mealworms:

Ducks & fish

I’ve taken to feeding each a bit further apart, which helps somewhat.

A duck on the bank; this pond edge near the house is one of their favorite places to hang out:

Duck on the bank

The three ducks heading out of the house down the ramp:

Ducks on the ramp

Into the water:

Into the water

Ducks in the pond:

Ducks in the pond

In the house for a meal; interestingly you can see straight through the nostrils of the foreground duck:

Ducks in the house

Reaching for treats:

Ducks reaching for treats

On to the chicks, with an assortment of pictures. I should see if I can get them to play the xylophone:

Chick by xylophone

Chick

Chicks

Chick

Chick

Chick

Finally, the older chickens, enjoying a corn cob and other treats:

Chickens enjoying corn cob

Chicken

Chickens

Chickens

Flock Friday for July 26

This week I opened the pop door of the duck house, and the ducks went for their first swim. Though not immediately.

When I first opened the door, the ducklings were unsurprisingly a bit freaked out by a strange portal opening in their wall:

Ducklings unsure about open door

The ducklings, looking in from the pond:

Ducklings through doorway

They peeked out for several hours, but nobody ventured out until the afternoon:

Partway out the door

Unsurprisingly, Gert, the Buff female, was the first out. Here she’s having her first swim, with Bert (the male) watching from the top of the ramp:

First swim

After a brief swim, she climbed onto the bank of the pond for a rest:

Resting on the bank of the pond

I really like that picture.

Then back into the pond for more swimming; she had no interest in going back into the duck house:

Duck swimming

I moved the mobile cam from watching the bird feeders to the northwest corner of the pond, for another vantage point, to fill in a blind spot of the main pond cam:

Duck swimming

Gert went under the pond deck for another break:

Duck under pond deck

She stayed out all night. Here she’s having an early morning swim:

Early morning swim

I moved the mobile camera to the northeast corner of the pond, as that gave a better view.

Gert resting on the edge of the pond around dawn:

Dawn

Misty morning swim:

Misty morning swim

Gert spent a fair bit of time in the shallow water below the pond deck, where she can stand on the bottom, but still be in the water:

Duck below pond deck

In the afternoon, I grabbed her from the pond edge and returned her to the duck house, so she could tell the other ducks of her experience, and have some food and rest:

Duck returned to house

The three ducks in their house:

Ducks in house

I closed the duck house for the night.

A raccoon visited the pond that evening:

Raccoon in pond

Actually two raccoons; very likely the same two that have been frequenting the cat house (more on that tomorrow):

Two raccoons

I didn’t think raccoons could swim, since I’d only seen them wading in the shallow end of the pond. Apparently I was wrong; the pond is about six feet deep at this point:

Raccoon swimming

In the morning, I re-opened the pop door, and gave them the usual treats:

Treats

In the afternoon, everyone headed out:

Everyone out!

A little hard to see, but all three ducks are at the bottom of the ramp:

Ducks at bottom of ramp

Gert shows the way, heading into the water:

Into the water

Bert joins her in the water:

Two in the water

The Cayuga duck (who we think is female, though aren’t sure) joins them, making a big splash that freaks out the Buffs:

All three in the pond

All three ducks swimming around the pond:

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

Three ducks in the pond

They stayed out all night. I’m beginning to think they don’t like the duck house… though who can blame them, compared to the great outdoors.

A midnight swim:

Midnight swim

I suppose this is the Flock Friday, not Duck Day, so here are some pics of the chickens to close this out.

An older chicken (Goldie) and a chick (Moana) meet through the fence:

Chicken and chick

Three chicks amongst the weeds:

Chicks

The chicks roosting above the closed-off nesting boxes:

Chicks roosting

I went to check on the chicks at dusk, and found four roosting above the window… not really intended as a roost!

Chicks above window

The following evening, Moana was up there again:

Chicks roosting

Chickens do like roosting in high places. Once they get older, and larger, they won’t be able to get up there. But she can enjoy it while she can.

That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed the duck excursions.

Flock Friday for July 19

This week the chicks got to go outside for the first time. So let’s start with that.

First tentative step out the pop door of the coop, unsurprisingly by the bravest of the chicks, the Exchequer Leghorn, who we’ve named Moana (after the Disney princess):

First tentative step out the door

On the ramp:

On the ramp

On the ground:

On the ground

Via the run cam, the chicks exploring. Since the run has been vacant since we kicked out the older chickens shortly before getting the chicks, the weeds have taken over:

Exploring

The chicks will enjoy grazing on the forest of weeds, and no doubt they’ll all be gone in a few weeks time. We did identify each of the weeds, and check that they are safe for chickens to eat.

More exploring:

Chicks outside

Moana on the grazing box, which will provide ongoing grazing once they’ve mowed down all of the weeds:

Chick on grazing box

If you look back at the chicken run cam picture above, you may notice a very straight edge of the weeds on the left side, about a foot from the fence. That fence separates the old and new runs. Here you can see why, on the right side of this picture: one of the older chickens poking her head through fence to eat the weeds within reach:

Chicken reaching through fence

I’ve seen several of them do that. And today I pushed some of the weeds to be closer for them. No reason why the chicks should have all the fun.

Some more pictures of the older chickens, enjoying treats from our veggie garden:

Chickens with treats

Chickens

Chickens with treats

Fluffy chicken butt:

Chickens with treats

On to the ducklings and their treats:

Ducklings

Water on the face:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

The wings are getting quite big:

Ducklings

Eating from the feeder tube:

Ducklings

I’ll make a ramp for the ducklings soon (maybe Sunday?), so they’ll be able to go out into the pond. That’ll be very interesting; I wonder if the non-swimming one will brave it? Stay tuned for the next update!

Flock Friday for July 12

Let’s start Flock Friday with the ducklings:

Ducklings

I’m still not completely sure of the duckling genders, but the left Buff is now quacking, and the right one is making a much quieter vocalization. Fun fact: generally only female ducks quack, which suggests that the left one is female. So I am fairly confident that the left Buff is Gert, the female, and the right one is Bert, the male:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Treats:

Ducklings

Here are the Cayuga ducklings:

Ducklings

And some sad news: the little one died Monday evening. I’m not sure of the cause; the size could be a factor, since it hasn’t grown as much as the others, perhaps due to some health issue, or something else. It wasn’t as active as the others, and looking at the video footage, it just sat in a corner for some time, then keeled over. Very unfortunate, especially after losing some chicks a few weeks ago. All part of the experience of keeping animals, though. I just hope we don’t lose any more any time soon.

Anyway, it was time to install a feeder tube for the ducks. So I removed the barrier closing off the nesting boxes:

Removing nesting boxes barrier

The ducklings were excited to explore their expanded accommodations:

Ducklings in nesting boxes

A duckling in a nesting box, as seen from outside — there’s a gap below the cupboard shelf, to reach in to eventually collect eggs, if they deign to lay them in a box (ducks lay anywhere):

Duckling in nesting box

In the cupboard, a jug of food tops the feeder tube, providing several days capacity:

Jug of food for dispenser

The tube goes through the shelf on the edge of a nesting box, resting on a support:

Food tube

The tube in the duck house, and a duckling eating from it. The yellow cap on the end can be removed to clean out the tube:

Duckling eating from food tube

Ducklings hoovering up rice:

Ducklings hoovering up rice

I also added a feeder tube in the chick coop. I was going to make a new — larger diameter — one like in the duck house, but decided to re-install the old tube for now. I might redo it later, when the chicks are bigger:

Chick feeder tube

The chicks didn’t take long to figure out the feeder tube:

Chicks eating from feeder tube

Chicks eating rice from my hand:

Chicks eating rice from my hand

Chicks:

Chicks

A chick in the hand:

A chick in the hand

On top of the nesting boxes:

Chick

On the nesting boxes center bar (the nesting boxes are still closed off, till they’re ready to lay eggs):

Chick

Synchronized chicks on the bar, and others eating from the tube:

Syncronized chicks

Finally, on to the older chickens. Here they’re watching Jenn work in the veggie garden:

Chickens watching Jenn

Me adding some dirt to a tire, for them to use as a dust bath:

David adding dirt to a tire

Camilla the escape chicken; she has always been the best flyer of the chickens, and flew onto the chicken coop, and out, then spent the night outside, and met me on the path to the coop in the morning:

Camilla the escape chicken

Flock Friday for July 5

It’s Friday, that means it’s time for a flock update.

Let’s start with the chicks this time:

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chick

Chicks

A chick pecking the camera (probably the green light below the lens):

Chick pecking camera

On to the big girls. A chicken laid a surprise egg in the middle of the coop floor; probably thought it was a large poop (yes, they both come out the same hole):

Chickens with a surprise egg

All the other chickens rushed over to look at it:

Chickens with a surprise egg

Chickens out in the run:

Chickens outside

Me topping up the pine shavings bedding; I just toss rough piles, and the chickens scratch through it, spreading it around:

David adding pine shavings

Quacker time. Literally; one of the ducklings has started a proto-quack, while the others are still peeping. They’re growing up!

We’ve also chosen provisional names for the ducks: Bill for the male Cayuga, Gilly (Gill) for the female Cayuga, Bert for the male Buff, and Gertrude (Gert) for the female Buff. We’re still not sure which is male and which is female, though.

Here are Bert and Gert checking the temperature:

Ducklings checking temperature

I replaced the waterer with the big duck one. This can be heated, to avoid it freezing in winter, though it isn’t plugged in yet. It is designed for ducks, with nice deep bowls, but small enough that the ducks can’t climb inside, removable filters to make it easier to clean, and a larger capacity reservoir:

Big duck waterer

Ducklings splashing:

Ducklings splashing

The little Cayuga duckling, covered in water droplets:

Duckling

The big Cayuga; look at those wings!

Duckling wings

Ducklings are very messy, including when eating:

Duckling messy eating

Duckling treat:

Duckling treat

The Buffs watching me:

Ducklings

A view of the duck house across the pond; they should be ready to go out there in a few weeks time:

Duck house across pond

Finally, a token picture of the wild birds, with a deer munching on the tall grass by their feeders:

Deer by bird feeders

Flock Friday for June 28

Welcome to the third Flock Friday!  (Did you see the bonus ducklings on Monday?)

Firstly, a bird flying to the pole the camera is on. Not sure what kind… I want to say woodpecker, since I often see them on poles, but may not be (if you know, please tell me):

Bird

The bird flying away. Notice also a pigeon on the red feeder, with the roost folded down under its weight, which closes access:

Birds

On to the chicks; roosting together on the upper bar:

Chicks roosting

An assortment of chick pics; look at those feathers coming in!

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

The chicks discovered the roosting bars above the (blocked off) nesting boxes. Their first view outside, too:

Chicks

Moving to the older chickens, a three-headed chicken dust bath:

Chickens dust bath

A bunch of chickens in their run, watching me as I approached:

Chickens in the run

Some closer pictures of the chickens:

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Chickens

Merida on my lap:

Merida on my lap

Finally to the ducklings:

Duckling peeking

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

They’re getting so big!

I’m now leaving the paint tray pool in the duck house during the day, only removing it at night, so they can swim throughout the day. Next week, I’ll leave it there all the time, where it’ll remain until they can go outside (in about 3-4 weeks time).

Flock Friday for June 21

Welcome to the second Flock Friday!

Okay, sure, I cheated with the bonus Flock Monday… but a good thing too, as I have 147 photos since then. I have managed to cull them down to just 30 for this post.

Let’s start with the Ducklings. They have definitely learned that I provide treats when I visit them in each morning:

Duckling treats

They love swim time:

Ducklings

Water flowing off the duckling’s head after dunking:

Ducklings

The buff ones like to keep an eye on me, hoping for more treats:

Ducklings

Water everywhere:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Ducklings

The brown-billed buff duckling still hasn’t been swimming, so I decided to show it (and wash it) by grabbing it and dunking it in the water… which of course it wasn’t too thrilled about, but I think worthwhile:

Dunking duckling

No hard feelings:

Ducklings

A quick look at the wild birds. I temporarily mounted my mobile cam on a post by the bird feeders, so I could watch them with the new feeders. I’m pleased to say that they are effective against the pigeons, that swarm in and clear out the feeders, leaving little for other birds. The pigeons can still eat the dropped seed on the ground:

Pigeons

Pigeons

Birds on feeders

On to the chicks:

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Chicks

Me in the coop, with a chick on my hand:

David with a chick on the hand

Chick on the hand

Back to the ducklings:

Ducklings

Duckling

Little duckling wings:

Ducklings

Ducklings

Finally, a look at the older chickens. Here they are hanging out in the run:

Chickens

There was some excitement yesterday; it appears a chicken broke an egg, hopefully accidentally (it happens sometimes), then ran away with the shell (which is unusual). Others chased her, and there was some fun for a while. I hope they don’t get in the habit of that, though:

Chickens

Here I’m turning over some logs in the chicken run, to expose the tasty bugs hiding underneath:

David in chicken run

And me in the chicken coop, collecting eggs. The girls are hunting for dried mealworms that I scattered on the floor, their evening treat:

David in chicken coop

Sunset by the chicken run:

Sunset by chicken run

Chickens settling down for the night on the roosting bars, as the pop door automatically closes when it gets dark:

Chickens

In the morning, chickens squeezing out the pop door as it opens:

Chickens

I hope you enjoyed this flock update!

Flock Monday? Bonus chicks & ducks

I’ve been taking so many pictures of the chicks and ducklings each day, I can’t save them up for #FlockFriday. So here’s a bonus post to help your Monday!

Some chicks:

Chicks

Chicks

The ducklings are very messy (as expected), so I’ll need to muck out the duck house probably weekly, at least until they are able to go outside. I use a plastic container to collect the old straw using a small rake:

Mucking out duck house

Mostly cleared out; once they can go outside, I’ll probably hose it out. The duck house was designed to be fairly waterproof for a reason:

Mucking out duck house

Fresh straw:

Mucking out duck house

The two buff (light-colored) ducklings can be told apart by the color of their bill. One has a more brown bill, the other is more pink. Their description says “The female has a brownish orange bill with a dark bean and the male has a yellow bill.” I’m not sure that clarifies it for me; is “brownish orange” what I think of as pink, or brown? “Yellow” seems more like brown to me. Perhaps time will tell; certainly once their feathers come in it should be more obvious.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that the brown-billed duckling doesn’t seem to be as much of a fan of swimming; I’ve seen it drinking from the water, and wade in to the shallow end, but not actually immersing itself like the others do, or at least not as enthusiastically:

Brown-billed duckling

Here’s the pink-billed duckling in the water:

Pink-billed duckling

Intermission for a chick on top of the waterer:

Chick on waterer

Back to the ducklings:

Ducklings

Duckling treats:

Duckling treats

So cute:

Ducklings

There’s an expression “like water off a duck’s back” for a reason! Their waterproofing oils seem to be getting nicely established:

Ducklings swimming

Head shake:

Ducklings swimming

Ducklings waiting for swim time, as I fill the paint tray from a water jug:

Ducklings waiting for swim time

The jug is then refilled from the tap by the chicken coop, and stored in the duck house cupboard to come to room temperature for next time. Wouldn’t want them swimming in water directly from the tap, as it’s quite cold as it comes out of the well.

Once they get closer to being able to swim in the pond, I’ll mix in pond water, so they can get used to that.

A duckling stretching their wings:

Duckling stretching wings

Sleepy chicks; it amuses me how they fall asleep on the roosting bars and go limp:

Sleepy chicks

A couple of chicks roosting on the grit dispenser (grit is sand-sized chunks of granite, which they store in their crop to help eat treats, since chickens don’t have teeth… another expression):

Roosting on grit dispenser

Roosting on grit dispenser

The chicks are getting better at flying; I recently saw them on the nesting box bar (the nesting boxes are temporarily blocked off, until they are old enough to start laying, since I don’t want them sleeping in there):

Chicks on nesting box bar

Fortunately, the ducklings can’t fly (or even jump very high), so the half door is plenty to contain them. Good thing, or they’d jump out to get to the treats:

Duckling treats

Duckling treats

I’ll try to save subsequent pictures for Flock Friday. Or do I need a Flock Wednesday too?! They’re just so cute and fun to watch.