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My Chucklings

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posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 09:35 PM
In addition to a small flock of free-range chickens, I also have a population of Muscovy ducks which ranges from 5 - 10 or so. Early every Spring, my Muscovy hens attempt to reproduce. They've learned that one of the best places to nest is inside the chicken house, as it is comfortable, has food and water, and is protected at night when I close the door.

A few weeks ago, one of my Muscovy hens took over a corner of the chicken house, began to feather her nest, and started laying eggs. My chickens, lazy bunch that they are, prefer to lay their eggs in established nests instead of making their own, and inevitably they try to horn in and lay their own eggs in the duck nests. One of my red hens was so persistent about not only laying eggs in the duck nest but also setting them, that she and the Muscovy hen eventually reached some sort of agreement or arrangement, and both of them sat the nest. This actually turned out to be quite convenient for the Muscovy, as she was able to leave her nest to eat and bathe without leaving the eggs unattended.

Eventually five of the eggs hatched, all ducklings because I kept stealing the chicken eggs out of the nest. The chicken hen must have been on the eggs when they hatched, so a big red chicken was the first thing the new ducklings saw. The chicken either didn't notice or didn't care that her hatchlings are a bit "different," and the ducklings don't know any better.

Muscovy ducks have a reputation as being "bad" parents; they tend to go on about their business after the ducklings hatch and leave it to the babies to keep up. Although their biological mother still takes an interest in them part-time, the red chicken hen seems to be their primary "mother" (although she refuses to go swimming with them, a behavior which seems to puzzle them to no end). Since my ducklings are being raised by a chicken, I call them "chucklings." It will be interesting to see what they act like and how they relate to other ducks and chickens as they grow older. One of my Muscovy hens hatched a chicken last year, and she also seemed not to care that her new hatchling didn't look as expected, but that relationship ended in tragedy when the Muscovy attempted to take "Chuck" swimming. Chickens don't swim well.

The four surviving ducklings are now about 3 weeks old and still stick fairly close to their chicken mama. (right-click on images to see the full picture).




Aren't they cute?

[edit on 29-3-2009 by Heike]

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 09:50 PM
Thanks for sharing...

What an interesting circumstance though I feel for the chick that met its' end in the water...

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 10:03 PM
Nature is hilarious isn't it. Wouldn't it be nice if all of us humans be more like your chickens and ducks

Off topic but your new avy rocks.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 11:52 PM
Awww they are just too cute. You're so lucky ! I just want to pet your chucklings so much. Do they have any names yet ?

I remember an experiment once on a British tv show, some chicken eggs hatched and the first thing the chicks saw was a little remote controlled red plastic fire truck. And over the following weeks the chicks took that to be their Mom. And everywhere the fire truck went the chicks followed !

Chucky chucky chucky chucky chuckling !
Lay a little egg for me !

posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:09 AM
How adorable!

Are you a little concerned that the ducklings will not learn duck "skills"?
Does the duck moma take them swimming at all?

Would be interested to learn if the next generation of ducks teaches their young things they learned from the hen moma. Keep us posted.

posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:58 AM
reply to post by Heike

love it - great photos

so sorry about the one chick

my sister raises guinea fowl and a few peacocks

the guineas all lay their eggs in one pile - then they all take turns sitting on them - sorta

sometimes in a group - some times none at all

it's seems like a crap shoot whether the eggs really get sat or not - I'm surprised they ever manage to end up with new guineas :-)

the peacocks seems to do much better than the guinea hens :-)

[edit on 3/30/2009 by Spiramirabilis]

posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 09:45 AM
Nature is amazing to me. I'm always fascinated by the videos where dogs mother pigs and deer and kittens, and the one I saw where a tiger started mothering a baboon baby (after killing its mother
). But, as fascinating as those are, I wonder about the level of human intervention in the case of the dogs, and it's different to see it happen in your own front yard knowing that nothing and no one "encouraged" it to happen.

The ducklings seem to have their "duck" skills at birth, knowing how to swim and eat. They aren't physically able to "scratch" like a chicken does, but they are eager to eat whatever Mama Chicken digs up, sometimes snatching worms or insects right out of her beak - and she lets them. They already eat grass and sometimes follow their real mother and imitate her.

I am more curious as to how their "social" skills will evolve, as most of the rest of the adult Muscovys don't really get along with the chickens. The darker side of nature is evident also, as both the geese and the ducks are bullies who run the chickens off of food and chase them at times. I have one old Muscovy drake who's a chap, though. He stands his ground against the geese and even against my huge (Great Pyr x Anatolian Shepherd) outside dog.

I'll return here and let y'all know how it all develops and whether my chucklings behave any differently than the other Muscovys as they mature. Thanks for the replies!

posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 12:21 PM

...The darker side of nature is evident also, as both the geese and the ducks are bullies ...

the waterfowl aren't pushovers - that's for sure

having been nipped in the heinie by a domestic goose and chased on foot by a couple of wild Canada geese - I've learned not to turn my back on them

I'll return here and let y'all know how it all develops and whether my chucklings behave any differently than the other Muscovys as they mature.

that would be really great - to be able to follow along and see how this goes

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