Daisy Duck is feeling right at home in one Red Deer family’s backyard this season.
The mama duck has found a safe spot and built a nest in Nicole MacDonald’s backyard in the Bower Place mall area, surrounded by trees, bushes and rocks.
MacDonald said her husband Pierce was gardening this spring when he came across the nest with about seven eggs.
“He was out there doing some gardening and he noticed a duck kept flying around,” she said.
On closer inspection, her husband noticed a nest with eggs.
The family has “affectionately” named the duck Daisy.
“I’m happy they found our backyard to be safe and us to not be threatening. That’s pretty flattering I guess,” the mother said with a chuckle.
She said the family believes the eggs will hatch around mid-June.
The family has lived in the house on Barrett Drive for about three years and has seen many birds fly around, but never a duck.
The family read up online about feeding ducks frozen corn and peas, so they left some for the mama duckie, but she didn’t care for it.
“She just fends for herself,” said MacDonald, adding the family finds her flying around and also resting in the nest from time to time.
Following an expert’s advice, the family leaves the duck alone, but occasionally peeks to check to make sure she is doing OK.
Once the eggs hatch, the family plans to leave the side gate open for the mother duck to lead the ducklings to a nearby pond, as the expert encouraged the family.
The closest larger body of water would be further south, around the 19th Street area – a route with traffic – so the family plans to call the Medicine River Wildlife Centre to see if it would be able to help.
Wildlife centre executive director Carol Kelly said the number of ducks setting up nests in backyards has gone down in recent years, something the centre feels is a good thing for birds.
So far this year, the centre has received three calls informing them of duck nests in central Alberta. That number has been higher in the past.
Kelly said in some cases, the centre intervenes to help birds find safe passage to a nearby wetland. About 10 years ago, the centre helped remove about 20 duck families in a year – a high number.
Kelly said if the birds have a pond nearby, they find their way, usually making the journey during the wee hours of the morning when it’s quiet.
“We try to leave them be if we can,” said Kelly.
But if the pond is far away, the centre intervenes.
Since Daisy’s arrival, daughter Piper, who is two and a half, has been learning about birds, nests, hatching of eggs, and giving the mama bird her space.
“We have explained that the mommy likes to keep the eggs safe, so we want to give her space.”
Mowing the lawn was a no-no at first, because it might disturb Daisy, but “she didn’t even flinch,” MacDonald recalled.