Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ab-Duck-ted by Aliens???

Once the sun comes up and touches it's bright rays upon our farm, our animals are ready to wake up and start their day. The roosters begin crowing and the ducks sing along with cacophony of quacks. We lock them all in at night to prevent attacks from predators in the night. Well, about a week and a half ago, I went out before work to let the ducks and chickens out for the morning as usual and noticed that one of the male Indian Runner Ducks was already out. I originally thought he may have escaped somehow, but noticed the duck house door still securely closed. My next thought was that he must have not been in the duck house with the rest when I locked them in the night before after dark. I usually count the chickens to make sure they are all in for the night, but usually don't bother to count the ducks before lock down because there are only 5 of them and they are a pretty tight flock unlike the chickens who are always scattered everywhere. Anyway, I figured the escaped loner would find the rest of the flock and I didn't think much more of it, fed the birds, and went back inside to get ready for work.

A little while later, as I was pulling my car down the driveway to leave for work, I noticed the ducks crossing the road. The ducks have always been good about staying in our yard and I have never seen them in the road. I was running a little late so didn't bother to get out and try and chase them back across our busy road. I figured they would find their way home and hoped they would avoid the vehicles. I later got a call from Noah saying that our male Rouen duck was beating on and chasing the loner Indian Runner boy. He said that he kept biting his neck, pulling out his feathers and chasing him across the road into the soy bean field. This is very strange behavior since the 5 ducks were raised together since hatchlings and have always gotten along really well. I attribute the behavior to raging hormones that have recently seemed to come into play in our little duck flock.

As our little ducks grew, we couldn't tell if they were boys or girls. About 2 months ago, we thought we had two female Rouens until one day, the larger one's head turned emerald green, he got a white ring around his neck, and his underbelly turned a bluish grey color. He is really quite stunning! We also noticed that he had a different quack than the female. After this, I noticed two of our Runner's faces seemed to turn a slightly darker color than the third ducks and their quacks resembled that of the male Rouens. So we ended up with 3 male ducks and 2 females. Not very good odds for the boys I suppose. (In the picture below, from left to right, girl-boy-boy-girl).
Also, a few days before the duck brawl broke out, Noah drove into the driveway and thought one of the ducks was having a seizure while all the others stood around watching. From a distance, all he could see was flapping wings and a writhing duck body. On closer inspection, he learned first hand about the birds and bees duck-style! The Rouens were mating in the middle of the yard, while the Runners all stood around watching. Ducks have no decency! On top of this display, the female runner began laying eggs this week. She appears to lay them at night when locked in the duck house, but has not been sitting on them at all. They are cold by the time we retrieve them in the morning. I am interested to know if a duck egg tastes like a chicken egg, but haven't had the time or courage to try a duck egg yet...but I plan to soon. I will let you know how that goes.

Anyway, back to our outcast duck. Now that the duck's seemed to have reached maturity and their hormones are raging, the big Rouen male must have decided that there were one too many males in the flock and not enough girls. He seems to have taken care of the overabundance of testosterone by ousting one of the male Indian Runners. It is very sad because all the other ducks seem to shun him as well.

I do have an alternative, somewhat off-the-wall theory as well. I would think nothing more than attributing this behavior to duck hormones, except for one strange discovery. I am not an expert on ducks, so there may be another very normal and reasonable explanation for the evidence I found to support this theory. Here goes...Maybe the duck was abducted by aliens the night he was not in with the other ducks and is now some sort of strange alien android duck sent to spy and that is why the other ducks no longer wish to associate with him. What is the evidence I have for this theory you ask? Well, let me tell you. After the big Rouen chased the runner across the street to soybean field a few times, he seemed to get the idea and didn't come back. That evening, Noah and I went across the street to look for the outcast. We could not find him anywhere, although we did find a friendly black kitty. We went back home a little discouraged and feeling bad for the lost outcast. Later, as I was giving the alpacas water around dusk, I heard a quack off in the distance and saw the outcast runner coming across the road back to our yard. Noah and I rounded him up and caught him to see how he was doing. He feathers were ruffled here and there from scuffles with the other boy, but the first thing we noticed when we picked him up was a strange residue on his neck. His neck looked like a yellow cattail (the plant...not an actual cat tail). I hadn't noticed anything that morning, but then again he was at a distance and I probably couldn't have seen it unless I inspected him closer. He had a half inch of what I can only described as corn meal caked all the way around his neck from head to body. Noah and I were a little alarmed because we had not seen anything like this before. We weren't sure if it was coming through his skin or what so we got the hose and washed the cakey layer off. Beneath his skin was fine, besides his feathers being ruffled. We have no idea what this strange substance was. Evidence left behind from aliens??? Hmmmm....Makes one wonder.... Regurgitated duck pellets spit onto the poor soul from the big Rouen? Who knows?.... A strange sticky pollen from the soybeans or some other plant around our farm? Could be..... We may never know. If there are any duck (or alien) experts out there.....let us know your thoughts! I didn't think to take a picture of the strange occurrence for the blog at the time.

Luckily, our little outcast Runner has found a wonderful new home where there isn't so much testosterone for him to compete with. We met a great family who lives a few miles from us at the Grant Frontier Festival. Somehow we got to talking about ducks. They have 3 female Rouens and decided to adopt our little outcast Runner. We dropped him off last weekend and he has a wonderful new home with 3 lovely ladies. I got an email from his new adopted mom a few days ago and he has settled in and is doing well with the other ducks. I am happy that our little outcast is no longer a loner!

1 comment:

Randy Bancino said...

Quite a tale of intrigue and mystery!