How loud are ducks? At 6AM, when I am trying to enjoy a few extra minutes of sleep, they seem really loud. The quaking started shortly after dawn this morning. At first is was a soft quacking. Then all 3 joined in. The snails and slugs are in plague like proportions right now and at one point, the ducks must have been celebrating when they discovered the bounty within the agapanthus. As a urban homesteader, this would not be that unusual except for the fact, I don’t keep any ducks, just chickens.
Although I don’t keep ducks, they live around here each Spring, whether we want them or not. Usually, I don’t mind, at least not at the beginning of Duck Season. Other than keeping an organic garden, I really haven’t done anything special to encourage them. The ducks prefer to nest around the neighborhood houses because it offers them sheltered nesting sites, unlike the pond around the corner which has only grass, trees, and a cement walkway. Our yard, with the Camellia shrubs and dense cottage style boarder, is magnet for them.
15 years ago, when we were in the process of buying our house, the previous home owner warned us “The ducks will nest here.” She even told us about one year when she actually had a pair of geese nest behind the large juniper next to the front porch. They aggressively defended their nest from anyone one getting nearby including the mailman, the meter reader, and especially the homeowner. For weeks the geese would attack her if she made the slightest move toward the front door. Instead, she would have to drive up to the garage to get around them and then enter through the back door. Once their goslings hatched, the geese moved on and she could once again use her porch. Of course her comments didn’t scare us off, and instead we thought it sounded charming since we were moving here from a little duplex at the end of the airport runway. We almost never saw or heard any urban wildlife around that place. Years later, every April, the previous homeowner’s comments prove true. However, the ducks still seem quaint and entertaining when they first move in and the ducklings are so precious. I like their webbed feet, their pretty feathers, and their cute waddle as they walk. I even like the gentle quacking (when I am not trying to sleep.) But by late June, we are fed up with all the poop on the sidewalk and the early morning wake up calls. I am glad they are just a seasonal thing on the block and I prefer to just take a stroll over to the pond to visit them.
Ducks are prolific snail and slug eaters and I love that they clean up the front yard of most of the mollusks by the time they move on. They do trample my nasturtium flowers pretty badly, but it isn’t anything worse than what the dog or kids manage to do. Most of the other plants bounce back eventually, once duck season ends. Based on the damage they do in a short time, as a gardener, I doubt I will ever want to keep pet ducks in the backyard. Since Bantam Cochin chickens are so much quieter and gentler on the yard, I will just stick with them for eggs and bug control.