Saturday Waterfowl Extravaganza

This has been a very fecund year for the ducks and geese here in our little suburban watering hole. Last year we had no ducklings and only two broods of goslings. This year we’ve had three broods of ducklings and either four or five broods of Canada goose babies—so far.

Our favorite ducks are a pair of white ducks who seem delightfully attached to each other. They’re always together, usually within a few feet of each other and never more than ten or twenty yards apart. They’re such lovebirds, and we always thought they deserved a family. This year they got one, an adorable brood of five yellow ducklings:

But duckling season has resurfaced an old mystery. We also have a pair of gray ducks who hang around with the white ducks. At first I wondered if maybe white ducks start out gray and then turn white, and these were children of the white ducks. But I guess that’s not the case. They’re still gray. However, they’ve also hatched a family, and they still seem to hang around with their white duck friends:

That’s the entire brood, seven gray cutie pies with yellow chests. And here are the kids playing together as if down color doesn’t matter a bit:

“Ebony … and ivory.” Come on! Sing it with me. Here’s a closeup of one of the yellow ducklings:

And here they all are after an exhausting hour of paddling around in the wading pool:

Check out the one in front. He looks like a kitten after a few minutes of chasing a string around. But it’s not just ducklings around here. We also have plenty of goslings. Here’s the most recently hatched, a brood of one:

And here’s the middle batch, a few days older. This is either a brood of seven or two smaller broods that have decided to join forces:

And here’s the oldest, part of a brood of three:

The new camera takes way better pictures of baby waterfowl than the old one. Goslings always looked a little fuzzy with the old camera, and I chalked it up to the nature of gosling down. It’s so soft that I figured it looked out of focus even when it wasn’t. But in reality it was the soft lens on the old camera. The Sony has better autofocus, which helps, but it also has a far better lens and less aggressive image compression. The down on a duckling actually looks like down. Hooray!

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