About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mallard ducks nesting in the neighborhood

We had a pair of mallards walking past our front door of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing. Mallard Ducks start to pair up in October and November, and may begin nesting as early as March. Dolly (cat) was glued to the window watching. Unfortunately a FedEx truck came roaring up to the door and scared them away. I’m glad they moved on. We are a busy location and it wouldn’t have been a secure nest.

While most ducks prefer to nest near water, some find inland areas and suburban gardens miles away from water to be ideal. The female makes her nest generally in a place well covered in vegetation. Most people welcome nesting ducks in their garden. You don’t need to feed her! The female should be able to find food for herself while she incubates. She's hiding.

Eggs are laid between mid-March and the end of July. The normal clutch is about 12 eggs, laid at one to two day intervals. After each egg is added, the clutch is covered to protect it from predators. If you find a nest full of duck eggs, leave it well alone. It is unlikely to have been abandoned. She just doesn’t incubate them until a full clutch has been laid. That way they all hatch on the same day.

The laying period is very stressful for the female. She lays more than half her body weight in eggs in a couple of weeks. She needs a lot of rest and depends heavily on her mate to protect her and their feeding and resting areas.

Once the clutch is laid the male loses interest gradually and joins other males near water to molt. While the female stays put on her nest with only short breaks to feed and stretch her legs. About 28 days later the eggs hatch together.

If the nest is some way from water, this first journey can be the most perilous time in a duckling’s life. In most instances it is best to leave the mother duck and her brood alone, because interference can cause extra stress and risk the mother panicking and abandoning her brood.

Young ducklings can feed themselves through trial and error as soon as they reach water. They depend on their mother to keep them safe and warm until they can fly and then become independent after 50-60 days.

Related Articles:
New Bird Sighted: Hooded Merganser http://bit.ly/yI7HjD
Wood Duck Nest Box http://bit.ly/y89U1v
Mallard Nesting Behavior: Can I move the nest? http://bit.ly/xawSdh
Bufflehead: Black and white duck http://bit.ly/MjFhnm

Bird of the Week: Long Tailed Duck http://long-tailed-duck.html

No comments: