I woke up this morning after about five hours of sleep, which if you know me, you’ll know is VERY unusual. I like my sleep. Anyway, for some reason I felt compelled to go outside and check on everyone. First thing I did of course was to open the nestbox to check on the new ducklings. First it seemed like no more had hatched, but then I noticed a dark lump buried in the woodchips. It was a fourth duckling. It was cold, still wet and had not fully absorbed his yolk… But almost. His eyes were dry and caked open with sawdust. But he was moving, ever so slightly.
I picked him up and brought him inside where I immersed him in a bowl of warm water up to his neck. After a few minutes, he started to revive. I dunked his head briefly to clean out his eyes and he sputtered a bit but then closed them up properly. I kept him in the water until it began to cool and then put him on a towel under a heat lamp. His breathing was a lot better and he was making feeble attempts to preen himself. In the meantime I went out again and removed the remaining five eggs from underneath the duck. After candling, they all turned out to be bad. Hoping the duck would now leave the nest and take care of her young, I kept an eye on her. She left the nest and the three ducklings followed her. However, once they left the coop the larger ducklings began picking on them immediately. The mother made no attempt to protect them, so I made the decision to transfer them to the brooder. The healthy ducklings began to drink and eat right away and snuggle up next to the rescued duckling who is slowly fluffing up. I guess this solves the problem of how to feed them without all the adults stealing their chick starter. I may try to reintroduce them to their mother in a day or two once they are all doing well, but who knows if such a thing is possible. If not, they’ll just get raised in the brooder.
I think I may need a nap later.