A new duck has joined my flock: a fawn and white runner. All my other ducks are pure white, but racial issues don’t seem to be getting in their way, and they are getting along fine. Apparently, introducing new ducks (particularly females) to an established flock is easier than introducing new chickens to a flock. With chickens, a common strategy is to sneak the newcomer into the coop at night while the flock is too sleepy to bother with it. But with ducks, the prevailing Internet wisdom seems to be that you can just dump the newbie out of his travel box with the others, and they’ll be fine. It seems to have worked so far.
This little duck could well become a drinking buddy of my duck Whodat, who likely suffers similar PTSD. They share the memories of being the lone survivors of flocks decimated by predators. The trouble is, there is widespread consensus among carnivores that ducks are delicious. Pretty much everyone I’ve ever talked to who keeps fowl has had a gruesome story to tell about predators. I put up a 5-foot high fence after a fox murdered a couple chickens and a duck. Some people call this the “wildlife tax.” It keeps flocks from getting infinitely large. But it’s still awful for everyone involved, except the villain.
Delicious as my ducks probably are, I keep them for comic relief rather than food. Their original purpose was to eat the duckweed off my pond and to lay eggs. But the pond is now outside their protected barnyard area, and it turns out, duck eggs (while tasty) don’t agree with me. But the comic relief services are enough. Indian runner ducks look a lot like wine bottles with legs. The Dutch called them “penguin ducks.” Originally likely from Indonesia, they were developed a bit in Scotland, and then monkeyed with a bit more in the U.S. They’ve been domesticated for 2,000 years, which is a pretty long time! Part of what makes them unique is their walking gait, rather than the more traditional ducky waddle. They are also particularly good foragers and prolific egg layers.
If you're interested in keeping ducks, my favorite book on the subject is "Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks" by Dave Holderread. The author actually sells unusually high quality waterfowl online (including rare breeds), I've ordered from him twice, and he's the source of all my pure white ducks. Highly recommended. Check out his Web site here.