Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Duckling Chronicles, cont'd: The Runt

I went outdoors this afternoon to take photos of the ducklings, who are about three weeks old now.  But as I stepped outside, a plane flew overhead.  Several ducks looked up to view, and I caught a photo of the large "Mama" duck doing just that:
She is the only duck that is not an Indian Runner.  She is much larger and looks much fatter, and only waddles, like normal ducks do.  (Indian Runners do just that: run like crazy, in a tight group, like a school of crazed fish.)  If you were to pick up the "Mama" duck, you would think she was made purely of down - she is as light as a feather!

OK - on to the ducklings.  There are twelve, and they are growing every day.  All...but one: the little runt.  As College Boy Graham described the little guy - "He's painfully cute - he is so small."  The other eleven ducklings hatched of their own accord, and two days later, there were three unhatched eggs left in our incubator. Two were deemed nonviable (i.e., dead ducks), but one had chipped a bit of his shell open, but the progression had stopped.  I finally decided to do some hatching of my own that afternoon, and lo & behold, out came a teeny, tiny little duckling, much weaker than his incubator mates.  After 48 hours or so, I put him in with his by-now larger and very active teammates.  And ever since, this little guy has lagged behind in development and behavior.











 Here he is lined up to take a drink in the water pan.  The other ducklings have learned to hop in for a little swim.  Little guy can't jump in on his own, he is too small.
I think there are some developmental delays in this little guy's thinking, too.  He cannot keep up with the other ducklings as they run around the yard in a tight group.  He is most often left behind, and resorts to "peep-peep-peeping" in a distress call out to his teammates.  Part of this is a physical problem - he simple cannot run as fast as them.  But also, I often see him running the opposite direction from his gang.  Maybe isolating him for two days made his imprinting skills null and void?  I do not know.  I figured it was either isolate him, or let the bigger ducklings trample him.

Notice, the little guy wandering off from the fold.  He has already begun his distress peeping when I took this photo:







 Sigh.  You just have to love the underdog...

4 comments:

Melissa said...

Poor little Runt! Do you think he would benefit from hanging with Boogie and Woogie in their little pen over here?

twebsterarmstrong said...

Melissa, I think the best thing is for him to have free range to challenge his development.

Louise Plummer said...

There's a children's book in this, but I'm wondering about the outcome. Is he the little train who could, or is this going to be a darker story?

twebsterarmstrong said...

Louise, my son-in-law said the same thing (about a children's book)!

Time will tell on the final outcome; the little guy is very healthy, albeit slow in manner. And in Duckland one only has to run faster than the slowest to escape the predators...
...stay tuned...

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