Ducklings swimming in the pool
In my excitement to take some photos, I and my kiddo unwittingly scared away the mom. She jumped outside the pool and called for her ducklings to follow her. They congregated at one corner of the deep side but didn't get out. After just a few moments, as my son and I watched, the mother flew away with a big loud "honk," making my heart sink. Had she just left her babies for good? Had I messed up royally?
(Sorry about the poor quality; I had to crop and zoom the photo which was taken from far away. I know she's hard to see but the mama duck was definitely there, hiding in the shadows.)
However, it wasn't completely unlucky that we interfered because, as it turns out, ducklings who aren't strong enough to fly also can't get out of pools on their own. (At least not the kind of pools with steep sides and rounded edges like ours.) The mom must have been calling for them to get out, only to realize that they weren't able to do so.
After it dawned on me that 1) the ducklings weren't able to fly out -- as my four-year-old said, they don't have (developed) wings -- and 2) they were too small to hop out, I put a slab of plywood at one corner of the pool and tried to encourage the ducklings to get on it. They wouldn't be encouraged and in fact did a fabulous job of avoiding the skimmer I used to try to herd them toward the ramp. I'm sure they were waiting for their mother to come back. They kept cheeping, calling for her. It was both cute and sad.
It was a nerve-racking 20 minutes for me since I had no idea what to do if the mom didn't come back. If they had been unable to figure out how to use the ramp and stayed too long in the water, they could have drowned or gotten hypothermia. So I turned on the pool water in order to fill it to overflowing -- that way they'd have a chance -- and left them alone. My son and I watched them through our window.
And guess what? Mama duck came back! In like two minutes. She was probably waiting for my idiot ass to leave so she could get her babies and go! She managed to encourage them to climb up the ramp, and they filed out of our yard together. I wish I could have taken photos of that but I didn't want to freak them out again. Trust me, though, it was really amazing. The part of me that likes to anthropomorphize animals, especially cute ones, was doing a happy dance and giving my son high-fives and kisses.
As my friend M said, Duck Drama Done! At least I don't feel so bad about scaring away the mom the first time. After all, the ducklings couldn't have gotten out without the ramp, which I might not have figured out for a long time if the mom were still hanging around. I do feel bad that I stressed out the babies by trying to herd them out of the pool myself. Next time, I'll know what to do AND what not to do.