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Duck Bills

Ask any child (or adult) to draw or imitate a duck, and the first thing they will sketch or mime will be that distinctive bill. But most people don’t realize that, in addition to shaping those characteristic quacks, duck bills are responsible for remarkable feats of perception.

The sensitive tips of duck bills include both touch and taste receptors. These allow ducks to discern, seemingly instantaneously, whether something will be good to eat just by brushing against it briefly.


Junebug and her adoptive mother Ready

Duck bills are also the site of the miracle known as dabbling. Using their bills as both sensors and sieves, ducks sluice through mud puddles or murky ponds, retaining edibles while jettisoning everything else. They do this so quickly and casually that it’s almost unbelievable.

And so it’s no surprise that we are constantly delighted by duck bills here at VINE Sanctuary, so much so that we recently broke ground for a new duck pond and began the process of building a new coop just for ducks.

Which brings us to the OTHER kind of duck bills we have here at VINE right now — the as-yet unfunded costs of digging that new pond and building that new coop.

Excerpt from excavator's bill for digging the new pond

Excerpt from excavator’s bill for digging the pond

We estimate the total cost of the project to be $7,500 but have only raised $2,650 so far. Our friends at Green Mountain Animal Defenders have promised a portion of the proceeds of their recent Walk for Animals, but we still need to raise more from individual donors.


We’ve bought the lumber and roofing for the new coop but cannot call out the carpenter until we raise more funds. We need to do this soon, because ducks are waiting to move in and it’s not long until snowfall.


After sitting empty for more than a month, in order to allow the freshly-dug sides to settle and dry, the new pond has begun to fill and should be full by the time the leaves fall. If we can’t raise the funds to cover its costs by then, we’ll have to dip into our wintertime operating budget.

We’ll be calling our new landscape feature “Seagull Pond,” in honor of the singular duck who died earlier this year. If you can, please make a donation (no matter how small) to the Seagull Fund to help us cover the costs of the pond and its associated coop.

As always, all donations to VINE are tax deductible. Thanks in advance for helping us pay our duck bills!

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