I was at Tomato Lake the other day watching the ducks while the Beloved Significant Other was working at attaining croquet excellence. After a while I came to the conclusion that in many ways people and ducks share similar behaviour. Like men the drake is up for rumpy pumpy at any time which can prove annoying for the females. When a drake gets in the mood for horizontal folk dancing he’ll start flirting. This basically involves getting the attention of a female. Drakes prefer to get amorous on the water and will shake their tail feather and bob their heads up and down. A bit like drunken males on the pull at the disco. If the hen doesn’t move in the general direction of away then the drake assumes that she is up for it and pulls out his really smooth moves. This starts with flicking water at the hen. My partner says adolescent boys do this to try and get attention from girls and it was really annoying. What happens next is a bit dependent on the species of duck, but the blue-billed ducks I was watching the other day have quite elaborate moves.
The blue-billed duck has spectacular mating display. He’ll swim up to a hen and then he presses his head into the water and blows bubbles. Having done that the next stage is to flick his head backward throwing water about with his bill. Then he’ll rise up out of the water with his back arched as if in spasm, with possibly his legs kicking water spray above his body. He’ll then have a bit of a shake check to see if his victim is still watching and then repeat the whole thing again. The human equivalent is when the bloke goes full on Travolta – you know he’s seen Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Pulp Fiction and thinks he’s dead good at dancing. Now if the drake has been successful he’ll chase the hen and then jump her – she often gets completely submerged in the process. It’s a bit like some men think a nudge in the ribs is foreplay. Once over they straighten their feathers the hen heads off to the reeds to build a nest, lay her eggs and raise the young. The drake does a runner and chooses to hang out with his mates until another hen takes his fancy. There’s no child support payments for ducks.
Was the drake I was watching on a promise? No the hen swam off very quickly. She was obviously out of his league.