A flock of male and female mallard ducks eat some corn feed that Vic Vegas had threw out on his lawn Friday afternoon at his Lake Concordia house. Vegas said he has been feeding the ducks since 1975. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Feathery family members: Ducks continue to flock to the home of Vic Vegas to feed every afternoon

Published 12:12am Sunday, September 16, 2012

FERRIDAY — Every afternoon for the past 35 years Vic Vegas hosts an early dinner for dozens of his sons and daughters.

The Ferriday native steps outside his home on Lake Concordia, grabs a tin bucket filled with corn and wheat and spreads it across his lawn. By this time a few of his winged family members have already gathered. But once the food is spread and Vegas sounds the dinner bell — places his thumb and index finger in his mouth and gives a few short whistles — dozens and sometimes hundreds of ducks come home to eat.

In 1975 Vegas purchased a handful of baby ducks, and he and his wife, Jane, raised them to adulthood.

Lucky, one of Vegas’ dogs, rests in the shade near a flock of mallard ducks eating corn feed Friday afternoon. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

“They’ve been accumulating ever since,” Vegas said. “We’ve had new ducks come in, some are fully wild ducks. They are part of the family.”

Vegas said this year the number of his daily visitors dropped to approximately 50 each day, but at times in the past he has had up to 200 ducks come each afternoon.

The birds are comfortable enough members of the family that they will stand around Vegas as he drops food out of his bucket to feed them. Sometimes he gets close enough that he could feed them by hand, he said.

“They are usually right under my feet when I’m feeding them,” he said.

The birds usually start coming in at approximately 3:30 p.m., and Vegas is there every day to feed them. If the family goes out of town, Vegas makes sure a neighbor can come by and leave food.

“We always have at least 10 show up every day, and the last two weeks I believe we’ve had every duck on the lake come,” he said.

Vegas said his favorite part about the daily visits is just watching the birds eat and interact, but he admits that he still cannot tell individual birds apart and doesn’t understand how they manage to make it back every day.

The Vegas family maintains a special bond with the birds, however. When Vegas’ daughter Kay was approximately 7-years-old, one bird attached to her like its mother, Vegas said. When it hatched, she was the first person the duck saw and the bond was created.

“That duck followed her around the neighborhood,” Vegas said. “She would go swimming and the duck would be right there with her. When she went under water, the duck would sit right there waiting on her to come back up.”

Vegas said he had one female duck that would walk up on the patio and peck at the door when she was hungry. He also had to remove a fishing lure from the foot of one bird, and he just picked the bird up, removed the hook and placed it back on the ground where it continued to eat.

The comfort level the ducks have with the Vegas family even includes the four-legged members of the household.

Vegas dumps corn feed onto the ground for wild ducks to eat. Vegas said he has friends or family feed the ducks if he and his wife, Jane, are out of town. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

Two of Vegas’ dogs, Lucky and Tucker, are familiar enough with the birds, and vice versa, that they will walk among the mass of birds without the dogs or the ducks causing a ruckus.

“The dogs are trained to run the geese out, but not the ducks,” Vegas said.

Vegas said he and Jane are big animal lovers, and he also loves to hunt, fish and be in the outdoors.

“I do duck hunt, just not my ducks,” he said.

Vegas said he has been to Africa a few times and has even killed a water buffalo.

But throughout all his adventures, one thing is certain, the ducks will be at home when he gets back.

“The interesting thing about ducks is if you have a new pond and the ducks come back for three or four years, they will always come back,” he said.