Tuesday, 1 April 2008

More ducks

We now have two pairs of ducks in the quadrangle. Last week a male joined the solitary female, and then yesterday a second male arrived (much, apparently, to the annoyance of the already ensconced male). Today we appear to have another female, bringing our total to four ducks, and possibly settling down any competitions for mates.

Reading the Wikipedia, however, we've found out a number of disturbing sociopathic tendencies in ducks. Firstly, males tend only to hang around until their current mate lays her eggs. Buggering off is then the favoured strategy. Presumably they're off to find a further mate, but it hardly seems fair to their current one (in terms of loyalty and resources, this seems a tad selfish). Secondly, while raising their broods, female ducks will seek out and kill the ducklings of neighbouring females. We think this might even have happened last year, although we've no hard evidence of this beyond the disappearance (they could have fledged) of one of our two females and her brood. Given that female ducks have to raise 3 or 4 ducklings on their own, and will ordinarily encounter adverse resource conditions, this perhaps isn't surprising, but it's not quite what one expects from seemingly placid and docile birds.

Anyway, we'll continue to keep an eye out for appearance of ducklings. Philanderers and child murderers the ducks may well be, but they provide a measure of entertainment to this office at any rate.

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