My runners are still pretty young--just started laying about a month ago. I was surprised to come home from vacation and find our female sitting on a pretty little nest with 7-8 eggs. It's getting colder, and I just didn't expect her to be broody at such a young age (and I've heard runners aren't by nature anyway). Ever since we got back from vacation (neighbors were watching after the ducks), our drake is pecking at the door as if he wants to come in. He spends a lot of time on our deck. Sometimes he does come inside, but I can't tell what he wants. Prior to this, they were inseparable. Did he miss us? Is he lonely without his girlfriend? How do I tell if she's doing ok? I haven't seen her leave the nest to eat or drink, although I also haven't been staring at the duck house all day. She does have close access to food and water, although it is not inside their house (I was afraid of creating a mess/mold problem).
How is the drake supposed to behave while the hen sits on her eggs?
- Overrun with Runners
Ducks have so many behaviors - It's hard to know just what they will do when someone goes broody.
Some won't eat enough without encouragement. Sometimes the drakes are protective, other times destructive.
I would see if I could get her to eat - I sometimes hold a custard cup with food or treats so the broody can eat while on the nest. Sometimes this gets her to come off the nest to make a broody poop. I try to encourage a quick swim and some runaround time, too. You may want to pick her up to check her body condition and weight (I don't use a scale, but I know about what one of my ducks should weigh).
She needs to be safe, and you may need to bring them in if they hatch when the weather's too cool. Especially a first time mom, she may not really know how to take care of them.
In fact, some first-time moms will attack hatchlings.
Thanks for the advice! I did remove her from the nest, just to be sure she was ok. She ate a little bit and then I kind of ushered her back into the house, where she sat right back down on the nest. I was planning to bring any babies indoors, both because of weather, and also because I'm not sure how either of our ducks will react to them. I estimate she's been sitting on the eggs about 5-7 days, so I'll keep an eye on her and make sure they both get plenty to eat and at least a little pond time. DH finished the duck house, and it is warm and cozy (I'm locking them in at night). I am so excited about the possibility of duckings!! I got a better look inside the nest while she was eating, and there are definitely more than 8 eggs. Yikes! If, after another 21-23 days, nothing has happened, should I remove the eggs so she can go back to her old self?