Mother Mallard and her 8 Ducklings

During a recent holiday on a lake about 175 kms north east of Toronto, I had the pleasure of frequent sightings of a Mallard family.

Mallard and ducklings

Mallards are very trusting ducks and this family appeared to have no fear of us.

Mallard and ducklings

In summer, after the 4 – 5 month breeding season, male mallards go off on their own to moult. During this time, they are left with a brown plumage and look very much like the females:

moulting male Mallard

Female Mallards make a nest of breast feathers and twigs near water. As many as 13 eggs are laid and incubated for about 30 days. When the ducklings hatch they are immediately taken to water for safety.

The first time I saw this family, there were 10 ducklings which was reduced to 8, perhaps due to predators, by the time that I took these photos.

Mallard and ducklings
Mallard ducklings

Only the female incubates the eggs and she leaves very, very briefly from time to time to feed and to stretch her legs.

Mallard duckling know how to feed and swim immediately after birth.

Duckling stay with their mother for the next 50 – 60 days. Eventually they are able to fly.

Mallard and ducklings

Diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, worms and grains like wheat and corn. This mother was shaking tree branches perhaps to dislodge insects which the duckling quickly devoured.

Mallard and ducklings
Mallard and ducklings
Mallard and ducklings

The ducklings stay very close to the mother at all times. Here she was showing them how to swim under a dock.

Mallard and ducklings
Mallard and ducklings
Mallard and ducklings
Mallard and ducklings

More photos:

Mallard ducklings
Mallard ducklings
Mallard and duckling
Mallard ducklings
Mallard ducklings
Mallard and ducklings

Miles Hearn

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