Monday, February 11, 2013

Last Ducks Standing

A few years ago it was decided by the powers that be in our fine city, that people should no longer feed the ducks at the Public Gardens.  The reason behind the seemingly kinda mean decision actually makes sense - the ducks had all gotten used to being spoiled by people at the gardens, eating like kings all throughout the warm season. . . but then they started to not migrate!  Ducks were staying at the Gardens all year, and since the park isn't open in cold weather, many of the ducks went from kings to paupers and starved.

Apparently not all the birds got the memo though.

As I was on my way home from work this evening I noticed two pairs of hold-outs huddled up by the fence on the north side of the park.  I can't imagine what this past weekend's weather was like for a bunch of ducks, or what trying to find food must be like right now with several feet of snow on the ground. They seemed to just be pecking at the snow.

I also noticed that they were exhibiting some odd behavior.  I am certainly no ornithologist, but I've never seen ducks act this way before, so I was curious to see that two of the ducks were laying flat to the ground, stretched out with their feet curled up behind them, and were making a strange clicking sound with their mouths.  

I hope that it's some sort of sexy duck pre-Valentine's Day mating ritual and not that they are freezing or starving.  I don't think BF, my landlords OR my neighbours would dig it if I adopted four mallards for the rest of the winter.

Any duck experts out there who can shed a little light on this topic?  

Till next time!


  1. It probably depends on whether people were feeding them or not. If they were being fed by people a lot they could be in trouble, but if they weren't they're probably just chilling (pun intended). If they're not dependant on humans for food, they could be flying out to the harbour (or wherever) for food and just hunkering down in there when they're not hungry.

  2. Nova Scotia is in the upper range of the Mallards year-round territory according to my Sibleys book. I'm a piping plover expert, which is no duck by any stretch of the imagination, but they do have wings in common. They could have migrated from NL and decided to stop here or just decided to go nowhere since there is food for them here somewhere. I'm not sure what they eat naturally. There is always open water for them somewhere here. I see them in the Arm all winter long. I would not worry about them. Not all birds go very far south. Plus, we are most of the way through winter and we have already experienced our yearly cold snap. If they aren't dead yet, they are happy as a pile of clams in the sand. Never feed the wildlife is a great thing to practice.

  3. Thanks so much for your insights guys. And Westbound, I didn't know you were a PP expert, that's super cool! I guess it wasn't so much that they were actually here that was concerning me, as much as their behavior - the weird clicking sound and the males sprawling out with their feet all curled up. BF and I did some extra research and found that ducks sometimes do that to keep their feet from freezing, which explains the stance at least.

    Westbound, I sure hope you are right about being most of the way through the winter! Hopefully this warmer week we seem to be in for is indicative! Hope all is well!