As some of you saw, this summer we were fortunate to have a pet duck! Our daughter named him Ryan and he was the highlight of the summer. Here is the story of Ryan.
We live on an acreage and our girls spend a lot of time exploring in our back yard. At the beginning of summer they found a pigeon egg. They brought it inside and we tried to keep it warm, but failed. So we placed another online order, this time for an egg incubator in case we came across another egg.
Shortly after this at our family's cabin, the girls discovered a mallard duck had laid 10 eggs in a nest at the edge of our back lot. The mother duck would fly up every time the girls walked by looking for frogs. At the end of June, we returned to find that the mother duck was gone and three lonely eggs were left in the nest. It was clear something had happened to make the mother duck abandon the eggs. As luck would have it, we had picked up the incubator from the mail on the way to the cabin! So, the girls gathered up the eggs and placed them in their new warm home.
I was only thinking this would be a great science experiment for the girls and had very little hope that the eggs would hatch. A couple days later we could feel movement in one of the eggs and could hear the little duckling cheeping! It was amazing!
Five days after placing the eggs in the incubator, Ryan hatched! My husband found him laying outside of his egg at 4 in the morning. He woke us all up and we took turns holding Ryan and keeping him warm. We made a home for him out of a large plastic container and plugged in a heat lamp. For most of the morning he could barely hold his head up and looked pretty fragile but by the afternoon he was running around!
We quickly realized we know nothing about ducks. Ryan was born on July 1st, so no stores were open, so we spent the morning googling what to feed baby ducks. Luckily, ducklings don't eat much the first day so we had a bit of time. We returned to the city the next day and bought some chick feed. He ate and drank very well and started to grow. He doubled in size each week for the first 4 weeks!
During the first week he lived in the plastic container in our living room with a heat lamp and towels to keep him warm. He would swim in a roasting pan we put on the floor and was quite happy. He was definitely bonded to us and would call for us when we walked away. He especially liked our youngest daughter and eventually she would be the only one he would allow to pick him up.
When he got a bit bigger we made him an outdoor enclosure with a smaller enclosure to sleep in at night (so no coyotes could get him). We set up a kids paddling pool and gathered duck weed from the lake to add to it. He would eat plants, spiders, oatmeal - almost anything you put in front of him. He loved eating in the water and would always pick up his dry food and place it in the water to eat it.
He quickly changed from the fluffy yellow duckling to one with beautiful brown feathers. Every morning it was amazing to see the change in just one day. We started transporting him (with our Bernese Mountain Dog and tabby cat) back and forth from the cabin on the weekends. We even had a pet salamander named Shelley for a couple of weeks too! It was a full vehicle but was a lot of fun.
Here are some pictures of the 8 weeks with Ryan (an egg beside him for reference).
Ryan would follow the canoe and loved swimming. He started diving underwater at 3 weeks and was constantly preening his feathers. All the kids at the beach loved him. It was the best summer and he was a big part of it. The kids will always remember the Summer of Ryan.
Here are more pictures of our fun summer!
This is the last photo of Ryan. Soon after this he flew over the fence and then realizing he can fly, he flew away and never came back. Good luck Ryan! We hope to see you in the spring!
PS: we know Ryan is a boy because the feather colours are consistent with a mallard and Ryan has a yellow/green bill which is what male juveniles have. Female juvenile ducks have a brown bill with a yellow edge (like a smiley face). We hope to see him in the spring with his green head!