Right now, 7:15am, the hen is out for breakfast. The ducklings will leave sometime this morning.
What to expect:
Out to breakfast: in the early morning the hen often leaves for 10 minutes or a half hour, to go out for a last breakfast without all of the kids.
Watching for danger: When she thinks it might be time to go she’ll jump up and sit in the nest box doorway and watch. She’ll sit there for 2 minutes … or 15, and after that she may decide not to go and d settle into the nest again for while. Repeat. Sometimes repeat and repeat.
Time to leave: When she’s ready and thinks it’s safe, she’ll drop down below the nest box and call using a special and fairly soft pulsing sound. The ducklings respond by peeping loudly, jumping around kind of like popcorn, and climbing up to leap from the doorway.
On their way: From when she starts until the nest box is empty is only a few minutes typically (two weeks ago it was an exception: 11 minutes). When the ducklings are all out (she keeps calling as long as she hears their loud peeping sounds) then she leads them away into the creek and they never return.
When: The earliest they’ve left is a bit before 7:00 and the latest was a few minutes after noon. Those are both unusual. Typically it’s sometime between 8 and 10am. These ducklings hatched mostly last night so they are perhaps more ready-to-go than usual so she might go early. If you watch it’s often lots of waiting, then 5 minutes of action.
I hope you enjoy watching!