Hope lies eternal in the heart of a mother duck. At least that’s the case with my 3-year-old Mandarin female, Jackie. It has been a devastating Spring. It started with predators taking her mate and all the other ducks in the aviary. She was alone and I was afraid she would be killed, too, if she stayed there. I set her free into the wild (since she is a wild breed anyway) and prayed she would be okay.
I set a day to tear down the aviary. My granddaughter was going to help me 4 days after I had let Jackie go. But we put off the date until the following Monday because she couldn’t make the hour and a half trip as planned. In the meantime I had left the door open to the aviary just in case Jackie might need to get to food if she needed and decided to return.
On the very Friday I originally set to tear it down, I looked out at the aviary and saw her just inside the door walking toward her food. I left the door open for her to leave if she wanted or needed, too. Then I immediately started rebuilding the pen into a more secure structure, making it much more difficult for intruders to breach. I also set three live traps outside the perimeter. I caught the most likely deadliest predator which was two opossums. I also had a neighborhood cat finding himself trapped after taking the bait of sardines. I let him go right after he was caught the first time. But he returned. I decided to let him stay all night in the cage hoping it would deter him. It did. He has never returned.
The changes worked. I ordered a mate from Stoney Bluff Farms in North Carolina. He’s a beautiful male Mandarin one-year-old. He took to Jackie immediately and they fell in love, bonded and began their mating season.
Unfortunately we ran into even more snags. As she began to lay eggs, snakes showed up. I eventually killed three rat snakes 5 1/2 to 6 foot in length. Two managed to consume 5 eggs and one consumed 6 for a total of 16, which is her usual clutch for the Spring. I thought she was finished laying but she had other ideas. She laid 7 more for a total of 23 and became calcium deficient. A couple of days ago I had to take her to the vet because she was trying to lay two conjoined shell-less eggs and suffered in the process. She was weak after she finally passed them.
After returning from the vet, she began to set the 7 she had. She has been doing well and she vigorously defends her nest along with her mate, Prince. She has taught me she never gives up. She knows what she was created for and she is determined to fulfill her purpose. She has also taught me to never give up.
I’m praying our challenges have ended and we will see 7 healthy ducklings around July 18-20th. If it doesn’t happen, it certainly isn’t for our lack of trying.
Below are two clips I made when I was worried for her life as she was egg bound:
All content copyright Phyllis Weeks Rogers 06/22/2018