Feeding Ducks

I only have 2 ducks, so you may think feeding them a trivial task, especially as they trudge up the hill each morning with plenty of rest stops, to present themselves at my house for the daily feed of coarse grains.  So this morning I put 2 scoops of grain into their feeding bowl (an old saucepan) and dump it outside on the patio.  Then from nowhere 4 scrub turkeys turn up and the situation gets political.  The scrub turkeys try to dart in to get a share but the power politics and hierarchy comes into play.  The ducks are twice the weight of the turkeys, but the turkeys are much quicker and more aggressive.

So I have deduced that in the pecking order, the big male duck is boss and doesn’t take shit from anybody.  Second in status is an old and very cranky male scrub turkey with a long pendulous bright yellow wattle that charges at and scares the female white duck with wild charges and flapping wings.  He can frighten her away from the feeding bowl.  When frustrated from his attempts at plundering the feed bowl, he spends considerable effort terrorising the other scrub turkeys.  Just out of spite it seems, as they wouldn’t dare get in his way.  The 3 subordinate turkeys have their own pecking order I haven’t quite figured out as they look so similar.  The white duck tolerates the 3 lower status turkeys eating out of the same bowl, and sometimes so does boss duck, but he doesn’t like sharing it with the boss turkey.  However, the turkey is much, much faster than the duck and can grab a gullet full of grain from under the duck’s beak.  Until it gets too greedy and gets a duck’s bill pounding on it’s head a couple of times.  Meanwhile, the white duck isn’t getting fed, which is rather the object of the exercise.

So in steps me as the ultimate boss, the alpha male, top of the heap ruler of Possum Valley, to bring authority, order and fairness to this rabble of feuding birds.  So I stand guard and gently encourage the white duck it is OK to come back to the bowl and feed again.  The boss turkey races round approaching from every angle including darting under the house to ambush from another angle, but with some difficulty and racing around I manage to thwart his efforts and occasionally lob a stick of firewood at him to assert my authority.  He quickly learns that 3m is sufficient distance to avoid my missiles and continues to test my defenses.  Meanwhile, the low status turkeys have taken their chance and snuck in to plunder the grain scattered round the bowl by the duck’s clumsy eating habits.  This enrages the boss turkey and he plunges straight through the amicable group of feeding birds, to scatter them in all directions and vent his anger.

About this time I deem that my ducks have managed to get enough to sustain them for another day and think I’ll go for a rest and a cup of tea before facing the other challenges of the day.


  1. Peter says:

    All well and good, and an adequate if partial and possibly time-limited and frustrating solution in place. When I saw your scrub turkey I was reminded of Roadrunner – have you cast yourself as Wile E. Coyote? But just think how lucky you are not to have to get a fox, goose and sack of grain across your lake in your little boat every day.

  2. george hardy says:

    where is the photo? my imagination is insufficient.

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