I decided, after seeing Fish Food Mama lose one of her ducklings this morning, to spend some time with her this afternoon. It was about at this age and this exact time of day last month that Peaches lost her next to last duckling. Fish Food Mama is using the exact same area that Peaches used.
Honestly, I don't understand how she didn't lose more ducklings today or any other day. For one, this juvenile gull, either a fledgling ring-billed or California gull, was right where they were found. Several ducklings almost ran right up to it. Mom seemed totally unconcerned about it. I nudged it further away from the family.
He still hung around in the water and on the beach. Mom tried to keep the ducklings away, but some of these guys just do whatever they wanted to. The gull left, but came back, later, almost landing right where the ducklings were (probably because that's where he took off from), but I waved him away. He hung around again, but left.
Like I did with Peaches the day she lost one of her last ducklings, as I sat, close by, meditating. Mama and her ducklings came up to me. This time, I stopped to take photos:
Mom called her ducklings out to the water and decided to give them a dabbling lesson. A juvenile coot was also there to instruct the babies on how to dive for food. It was so funny how the ducklings tried to imitate the young coot who really seemed to want to be their friend and show them how to find food.
Mom demonstrated how to dabble:
|Here's how you dabble, babies|
And, they tried to imitate her, but some ended up doing all kinds of somersaults and flips instead.
|Like this, Mama?|
|No, you have to do it this way.|
Later, she went to take a nap and only three ducklings joined her at her side. The other four just kept running around, on their own, away from her. I think a couple more joined her on the beach after I came up and they began to peep for Mama. While I was there, no ducklings were lost. I think the only thing saving them was the fact that there were fewer people feeding the birds, because the weather has been hot, and attracting the gulls. However, if Mama can't get her ducklings to be more obedient, she's going to lose several more. So, I am trying not to get too attached.
Across the lake, another mother duck, the mom of the two ducklings, screamed her head off for about five minutes. A Cooper's hawk had attacked something and it greatly distressed the mother. Both ducklings were fine, but she moved them away from that area. The hawk stayed in the tree and remained in the tree even after I left.
I couldn't stay any longer and hope that Mama doesn't lose any more babies.
Another duckling update:
Neo! He's almost 4 months old (18 weeks) and will be getting his green head, soon. He still stays close to his mother, but is not as friendly as he used to be. I almost had to chase him down to get a photo of him. He spends a lot of time in the algae blooms, far away from where I can get a good photo of him, otherwise.