Saturday, May 24, 2014
Snowie's New Babies
It was cold and drizzly early this morning (typical Memorial Day Weekend weather) when I saw Snowie with a new set of ducklings. This is almost exactly 6 weeks after her last brood died.
I think she had 11, 6 are in the next photo:
Here's a close up of a few:
However, this leucastic female mallard was hanging around. She NEVER hangs out in this area and I'm sure she hasn't been nesting. All kinds of ducklings surrounded her and when she began to move, this one began to follow and peep after her. At first, she acted like she wanted to get away, but she was answering his peeping with "mama duck" talk:
She swam close to Snowie and her babies, then went far out to the middle of the lake, the duckling tight on her side. Then, she went closer to her usual area with the duckling and let him feed onshore. I was worried that she didn't want a duckling and would abandon him. But, she was being attentive and talking to him, so I told her to take good care of him. She may have been passing by Snowie to either return him to her or to possibly steal more.
It's unusual for mallards to raise any ducklings not their own. Most females will peck and chase a baby that gets too close, or even kill them. But, every year I find at least one or two females who will steal a baby (or babies) from another female who is inattentive. Usually, I've found, the adoptive mothers are females who are bad at setting, don't want to set, or have lost their nest close to hatching time. Ducklings are easily impressionable during the first three days and may attach themselves to other mothers or ducklings during that time.
Sad news about the Canada goslings. One is gone. I don't know what happened. I suspect the herons, but humans, pet dogs/cats, and raccoons could be the reason for its disappearance. They're too big for gulls, crows, etc. Or, it could have been sick.