Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Duck follies and other icy bird tales...

It snowed last night.  The ground is covered with about 2 inches of heavy, wet, white.  The chickens and ducks had enjoyed the past few days, because a heavy rain had washed all the old snow away and they were able to walk on bare ground. Walk they did, from dawn till dusk, all over the pasture.  But with the new snow, I knew they would stay close to their coops.

When I went out this morning I carried a snow shovel out to the duck area. I carefully scraped a space in front of their house to bare ground, then sprinkled a layer of hay around.  I filled their pan with warm water and set it near the hay, so they would have insulation for their feet from the cold ground while they enjoyed drinking and playing in their water. I topped off their food bowl, too.  Normally when there is snow they spend all their time in their hutch or just outside the door, where the food and water pans are.  I was pleased with how I had set everything up for their comfort. I applauded myself for being an excellent duck mom.

However, they were having none of it. They blasted past the area I had prepared, and quacking in loud protest they waddled out into the pasture. Their squatty bodies plowed through the unblemished snow.  They went to the area by the goat and pony shed, where they love to be when the ground is open.  However, once they got there they looked quite dismayed.  There was no pan of duck water, and no food to find on the snowy ground.

Since they spend the first part of most mornings eating and drinking their fill, I knew they must be hungry and thirsty.  There they stayed, however, looking forlorn.  One foot tucked up against their breast feathers to warm it, one in the snow, then switching to the other foot; it was a sad looking avian snow dance.  I kept checking on them, thinking they would wander back to their hutch where breakfast awaited, but they did not.  The flock of four was the very picture of desolation.

So, I geared up and went back out.  Luckily ducks are pretty easy to herd. I got them headed in the right direction and they made the long waddle back to their house, where they could eat and drink, and get out of the snow.  I think they were a little relieved once they got the idea.  They stayed put the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, outside my window, I saw this Mourning Dove, with a hefty chunk of ice dangling from her pretty tail.

I wonder where she slept, that water dripped on her and froze?  She didn't seem to notice the encumbrance.

I had to fill the wild bird feeder twice today; the air was full of the sound of wings as they zoomed in, ate, and zipped away again.  I am glad that some birds have the sense to stay where food is served during the cold and snowy winter days.

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