On April 22nd as I was coming in from outside I noticed something in my peripheral vision. A mother duck and 11 ducklings were swimming in my pool! I was amazed. The mom was obviously proud of her family.
They were fascinating to watch, the ducklings were just like little kids. Really curious about everything.
But, as the day wore on troubles arose because the babies could not get out of the pool on their own. Mom would jump out and cause the babies to start crying because they either could not see her or could not get to her and they really tried to get out of the pool on their own, but were just to tiny to make it. Really cute little peeps, but sad because they were so frantic.
I cautiously tried to help them out, but the mom tried to attack me when I got too close to the babies. She flew at my face several times! Finally, I resolved the problem by putting a small picket fence I had used in my daughter's bedroom (to make her bedroom into a garden with birdhouses hanging from the wall). The fence floated and gave them footing to get up and out of the pool.
It wasn't until 8:00 pm that I was able to go in the house and feed the dogs and cat, satisfied that the ducklings could safely get out of the pool on their own.
According to what I read it takes 60 days for them to learn to fly so they will be here awhile longer. They look almost full grown now.
The dad, the Drake, visited them a couple of times early on and then just left. He came back about a week ago and has stayed ever since. He's handsome and looks young, but he is a chicken, which I suppose is a good thing because it keeps him alive.
I didn't know much about ducks before and still don't. However, I have grown to respect their power to fly and the circumstances they must put up with being a wild animal. Life is tough for wild creatures of all sizes and shapes.
Anyway, it is amazing to see them lift off and fly away at a high rate of speed because they are so big and heavy. And their landings are quite spectacular too. As they fly in they start quacking to alert the babies who immediately gather around as soon as they land. It's heartwarming to see them so glad to see their parents.
Even now one or two will peep for them when they leave. I should mention that the mom and dad usually leave once or twice a day to go somewhere else for an hour or two. (Maybe to visit their friends wherever they are)?
So, I went to a pool supply store and bought the stuff I needed to do it myself. I couldn't get the suction on the vacuum to work. So I asked the pool man to stop by and show me how to do it. Which he did and was kind enough to tell me that he wasn't going to charge me for the visit and that he wasn't mad at me.
In the meantime, I ordered shoulder-length disposable gloves from amazon.com because I couldn't figure out how to do it without getting contaminated. The pool is full of algae too.
Anyway, he said the filter should be cleaned because the suction wasn't working. So, I tried to do that. Took it apart, but couldn't get the filters to come out because they were too heavy. So, I did what I could with a hose and scooping out the gunk with gloves on of course. What a gross mess and it was impossible to get it all out.
I tried the suction and it still didn't work, so I thought the whole thing was jammed up. I called the pool supply store and they advised that I have the filter cleaned by their service dept. Which I did. The service man was here a couple of days ago and I am so glad.
He cleaned the filter and told me not to bother vacuuming the pool at all, just to continue using the net everyday because he thought that the filter would need to be changed after only a half hour or an hour of vacuuming because the pool is so dirty. Which could be expensive if I did it over and over again until they left.
He said the water wasn't as gross as I thought it was that most of the organic matter was at the bottom of the pool and the ducks wouldn't get sick. So, I hope he is right.
Oh, and he said to just drain it after the ducks leave, clean it and fill it up with fresh water.
I feel so much better now, I was afraid the ducks would get sick and die.
And he also advised me to buy an alligator toy and float it in the pool and get a couple of fake owls.
You can't lay eggs or fly.
Never thought about it before, but that is an easier way than jumping from a tree.
The first baby was likely killed by my son's dog, before I had a chance to put hardware cloth along a fence to separate them. I walked outside and found one dead on the lawn. I think the duckling wandered on the wrong side and Bear grabbed him. Bear is an Eurasier than I found wandering in the AZ desert in 2002 in August! Poor guy, he was miserable. He was literally skin and bones - his spine was sticking up, sounds funny, but it was. He weighed only 15 pounds and his normal weight is about 35 lbs.
A couple of days later I noticed one duckling was opening and closing its mouth, constantly but no sound coming out. The next morning I watched him or her swimming in the pool, I turned my head and immediately looked back and BOOM it was on its side. JUST LIKE THAT! So fast. I scooped him out and he was dead.
The next day I found one dead in the grass. Which left 8. In the next few weeks, some disappeared during the day. I always counted them in the morning, and throughout the day. They just disappeared and I don't know what happened to them. I suspect hawks picked off some because I noticed them in the trees several times. Mother Nature is very cruel.
Yesterday, I saw them fly a short distance. They perched themselves on a wall close to the pool and then flew (flapped their wings) and landed in the pool. I guess it wasn't a lot of fun because they didn't get out and climb up to do it again.
I read that ducklings learn to fly in 60 days and that is about right. I first saw them April 22nd.
They have made a huge mess that I try to keep under control by netting the pool daily and scrubbing the pool deck, but the pool looks like a dark green swamp. The gunk that I get out of it is disgusting. Poop, leaves, algae, and seeds. Yuk!
I really want the pool clean and I want the ducks to go soon, but I will miss them. They have been fun to watch. And, they aren't so afraid of me anymore. In fact, oftentimes they come running when they see me. Not so much for food, but they love it when I turn on the hose. They like it when I make rain showers for them, even the mom. They love it when I aim the stream of water to hit the edge of the pool and they all swim up to catch the water droplets in their mouths.
It's been interesting observing their behavior too. There are differences in their personalities. One is really shy, one is assertive and brave and the other two are just kind of normal.
Anyway, the mom took all the ducklings uphill to a neighbor's house. I checked with them (the neighbor's) the second day or so about what was happening and that I would sacrifice my pool to make sure they had a safe place to stay. They readily agreed.
Anyway, I noticed they were gone and knew where they were. It wasn't long that I saw one little ducking swimming in my pool all by himself. He happily chugged around the pool kind of chirping to himself for hours. Four or five hours or so. Which was really cute. What a brave little guy.
Then he suddenly decided he wanted to see his mom and siblings and he started to call for her. Their cries are easy to distinguish because there was alarm in his voice and he was pretty loud. I can't remember exactly what happened, but I probably went out to help scoot him up the hill. He ran in the wrong direction and went through a gap in the fence and took off for the front yard. I immediately ran through the house and we met up as he was rounding the corner at the front. So, I flapped my arms and he turned around and ran back and jumped in the pool again.
I didn't want him in the front because of cars and there were two raccoons residing in the front yard that I had just newly discovered a night or two before. The male was huge and not afraid of me. Which pissed me off.
To finish the story, the little guy stayed in the pool while I busied myself putting up hardware cloth, including burying it so that none of the ducklings could get through again. Eventually, his mom and siblings returned with a lot of greeting noises. So sweet to watch.
I ran in the house and got my biggest broom and ran back out making aggressive gestures with the broom and yelling at him. He looked at me like I was a clown.
While this humiliating experience was taking place a teenage boy walked down the street and yelled out if that was a skunk! I yelled back that no it was a raccoon which was much worse.
Finally, the raccoon climbed a tree. So, I turned on the hose with my super-duper narrow nozzle that shoots a hard stream of water and squirted him over and over again. Even in the face and he hardly moved. Not my finest hour.
Then I noticed another raccoon, a smaller one. Must of been his mate. I squirted her too without success.
After about 15 minutes, I went in the house and called a wildlife removal service. There was no answer; only a recording that said to leave all the information and they would call back, and by the way the charge to show up at the door was $195.00.
I really would not have cared much, but I was worried about the ducks.
I wish I had known where my son's paintball gun was because I would have used it to scare them away. Maybe I should get one of my own just in case other animals show up that I don't want to hang around, like skunks. Does anyone know if it is against the law to shoot wild animals on your property with paintball guns?
What about raccoons? Is there a certain color one must use?