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One plucky ducky

One plucky ducky

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A new arrival is welcomed by not one, but two, surrogate mums, reports SIMON WEBSTER.

We welcomed a young duckling into the world yesterday. There it is, pictured, having just flopped out of its shell following a titanic struggle that went on for several minutes, with me and the missus splashing water on it every now and then, and urging it to “breathe”, “push” and “ride the wave”. We resisted the urge to offer laughing gas, believing in natural births wherever possible.

 It lay there exhausted for a couple minutes more before slowly crawling over to rest beneath the fluffy white folds of one of its surrogate mums (what a very modern family unit that is).

 The chook in the foreground is a bantam silkie, a breed that has a strong maternal instinct. That’s more than can be said for ducks, which don’t seem to want to sit on their eggs at all. So it’s common practice to put duck eggs beneath broody hens.

 When you do that, you are supposed to spray the eggs with water a couple of times a day to replicate the wetting they would get from damp duck feathers. We didn’t bother, but we seem to have got away with it, possibly because we live in a humid climate (northern NSW).

 The chook in the background is a Malay, which has been sharing the nesting box, and is doing a good impression of the birthing ward’s cranky matron (deep down, of course, she’s a big softie). Three more duck eggs to go. Hopefully we will have more success over the next day or so.

Photo: Simon Webster