Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Unlucky Ducky Surprise.....

As many of you know, we had ducklings this summer! We were planning on keeping 2 babies to join mom, but ended up keeping 3, as the 3rd had a neck issue (wry neck) and we didn't feel comfortable handing a somewhat-disabled duck off to anyone else.
Our ducks are Anconas, a rare breed without much available information. Ducklings are notoriously hard to sex, and so when we got our last 3 ducks as wee ducklings, we were promised that they were all female, and after 4 months we realized that 2 of our girls were really boys. So we had a flock of 2 males and 1 female. Not so great during mating season, as ducks as far from romantics.
When our mama duck was sitting on her eggs, we re-homed the 2 dads, because it was likely that they would harm the ducklings. And, we were excited to choose female ducklings to have more ladies and hence more eggs.
Anyways, when our ducklings were tiny, we noticed that 2 had orange bills and 1 had a peach bills. As they got their feathers in, the 2 oranged-billed ducks had a green sheen to their black feathers, while the peach-billed did not. And, a couple of months later, we found out that the oranged-billed ducks were males, while the peach-billed was our female.
So, when our 10 ducklings hatched, 5 had orange bills and 5 had peach bills. I was 99% positive that in this breed, the bill color was linked to their gender. That is actually quite common in certain breeds of ducks, and I assumed it must also be true for Anconas, although with such limited information, I had nothing to back me up. But we went with it. We chose our two favorite peach-billed ducklings to call our own, and named them Dottie and Nana, because they were, of course, female. Then we ended up keeping Rye-guy, the poor little orange-billed boy with the neck problem, just because he was a mama's boy and needed extra love.
As time wore on, Rye guy started to get a green sheen in his new black feathers while Dottie and Nana didn't. I was convinced that I had figured out this duckling-sexing thing.
And then Rye quacked. Did you know that only female ducks can quack? It's true. The males make this funny sound that I can't even describe. But it's definitely not a quack. So, our boy duck was quaking, meaning that Rye guy was really Rye gal..... and then I heard Dottie and Nana..... Not quacking, but doing the male chirp. I was devastated. Somehow, our orange-billed dads and peach-billed moms produced a girl with an orange bills and boys with peach bills.  Or at least I think so.....I am still hoping I am mistaken and that those boys will start quacking..... The boys will get curly tail feathers in about 1 month, which will be the definitive sign of their gender.
So now, I am slowly accepting that our new flock is mama, rye (our girl with neck issues, so we are not sure if she will ever lay or not), and 2 boys (Dottie and Nana, which I guess we should rename!). We are realizing that we may need to re-home these boys at some point, as we definitely do not want more ducklings that are from mama and son, or siblings. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
For now, I am mourning my loss of 3 eggs a day, and Todd is making fun of me for being so "sure" I knew how to sex our ducklings. Oh well. Live and let learn, right? They are still hilariously entertaining, regardless of what their gender is. Pin It Now!


  1. Oh no, what an adventure that has been. Sorry about the gender mix up, I totally get mourning the loss of those eggs.

  2. Sounds like you are experiencing "gender confusion" with your ducks. I bet they are entertaining and fun to watch!