Sunday, May 12, 2013

mallard eggs

A few days ago we noticed there was a mama mallard sitting in my tulips in the morning when Kevin was leaving for work. I thought it was cool having our own duck. Morning after morning she was still there. I started to look forward to seeing her in each morning. Today, on Mother's Day, I peeked at her, she got up and walked away and there I saw five faint blue eggs sitting in her little nest.

So, now that I have my own duck, I took to looking up a bit about my duck. Ma Mallard typically lays one egg per day until she has accumulated a full clutch. Early in the nesting season, a full clutch averages 12 eggs. As laying progresses, Ma will add grass, twigs, and copious amounts of her own down to the nest, resulting in a well insulated and surprisingly well camouflaged nest bowl.

During the laying period, Ma visits the nest for only about one hour per day. While there she lays an egg and works on nest construction. Don't be concerned if she skips a day. She does not incubate the eggs during the laying stage. Because no embryo development has occurred, weather conditions in her absence generally have very little effect on the clutch. An exception is a hard freeze, which may kill the embryos if it occurs before the hen has insulated the nest. Once she has constructed a nest bowl, she will cover the eggs with nest material whenever she voluntarily leaves the nest. This behavior makes the nest less obvious to predators, and protects the eggs from temperature extremes.

Incubation begins after the clutch is complete, and typically lasts for about 25-29 days. During this period she will usually cover the nest and go off to feed for about an hour each morning and afternoon. Once the duckies hatch, the walk away!!

Can you see her hidden in the mulch? She isn't around during the day and now I'm wondering how I can keep the dog away from the next for the next month. Not to mention that I need to water the flowers and also plant some annuals. Ma Mallard sure did pick a good nesting spot. It's sheltered and pretty!

We also have a resident hawk that came back. His family showed up last year and live at the top of a pine tree in the back yard. Under the trees in some bushes, we have a bunny family. We saw it coming.... the hawk got either the mom or the dad bunny, and one of the babies. There were some body parts in the back yard, but I still see one of them munching in the mornings.

Yesterday I also saw a fat raccoon run through the backyard. I wonder what other friends we have around here?

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