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Duck Pictures: Smudge the Little White Mallard Duck

Updated on October 3, 2018
annmackiemiller profile image

Ann is a passionate birder and photographer. She loves nothing better than creating photo storybooks about her beloved birds.

Duck picture

Smudge the little white mallard duck. Find her on cards and gifts on zazzle.
Smudge the little white mallard duck. Find her on cards and gifts on zazzle. | Source

Duck pictures

Smudge the Little White Duck brooding day old ducklings
Smudge the Little White Duck brooding day old ducklings | Source
White mallard female with male mallard duck and ducklings
White mallard female with male mallard duck and ducklings | Source

Duck pictures: Smudge the little white duck

This is a delightful photo journal by wildlife photographer AnnMackieMiller. The pictures follow the fortunes of a little white mallard duck and her ducklings. Scroll down for the best view of these wonderful photographs.

"Last year (2010) I was able to tell the story of Smudge the little white duck. This pretty hybrid mallard duck (with a smudge of black on her head), produced a brood of ducklings with a male mallard, he, unique in not having a white neck ring. Unusually, the male remained with the female and at about four weeks they abandoned the chicks. They were later adopted by another female mallard. In later weeks, Smudge ‘acquired’ the ducklings of another female mallard.

This year then, her appearance with a brood of 13 ducklings was greeted with great enthusiasm. It will be fascinating to be able to document her behaviour this spring. The family made their first public appearance at Micklethwaite wharf on Monday. Again, the male was close by her side. Generally speaking the male has nothing to do with the female or with the ducklings. Every book I have read also says that mallards do not form monogamous relationships as this pair appears to have done. The same male, without a white neck ring, was seen with Smudge while she brooded the ducklings in two different sites. He was also chasing off other male mallard ducks but I suspect this was to prevent any of them mating with his female rather than acting as protection for the ducklings."


Diary of a Little White Duck

The next day saw the family out on the canal, the ducklings roaming far and wide over the water, both adults present.  Smudge made no noise and seemed to push away the chicks on occasion.  On day three, however, Smudge appeared with the ducklings but without the male.   Again she was silent and the chicks were wandering far from her – they were down to 11.  Mortality is very high in mallard ducklings.

On day four, Smudge is making noises.  Generally mallard mothers made soft clucking noises, almost continually, as if to ensure the ducklings stick close to her.  This is the first time Smudge has done so, even if she does sound as if she has a sore throat.  Although the ducklings now number only seven, in contrast to earlier days, they are sticking very close to her.   Once again the male was absent. 

Day five saw the return of the male to smudge’s side.  Indeed, they are still mating.  The ducklings, still numbering 7, were free-ranging while mum and dad played.  Smudge also had to spend considerable time escaping the attentions of other male mallard ducks.

I now suspect the presence of the male is related to mating, i.e., that there is still the expectation of producing more fertilised eggs.  Certainly the behaviour of both female and male are the same as before the eggs hatched.  After mating the female seems to attract more male attention, so she goes into defensive mood – flight escape, hunching down to protect the back of her neck and loud quacking to alert her mate to her defence.  The male’s imperative is to prevent any other duck from fertilising his female’s eggs.  It will be interested to see if she abandons there chicks if and when she is due to lay more eggs. 

 

Duck Pictures by AnnMackieMiller

Mallard ducklings
Mallard ducklings | Source
The Little White Mallard Duck with ducklings
The Little White Mallard Duck with ducklings | Source
White mallard duck with ducklings
White mallard duck with ducklings | Source
white mallard duck and ducklings
white mallard duck and ducklings | Source
white mallard duck and ducklings
white mallard duck and ducklings | Source
white mallard duck and ducklings
white mallard duck and ducklings | Source

SMUDGE the white mallard duck

'Smudge'  She is a little white female mallard duck
'Smudge' She is a little white female mallard duck | Source

Update 2014

Since I started watching Smudge this is the first year she has managed to raise ducklings for more than a few weeks. She lost every brood up till now, though one year she did 'borrow' another female's brood and successfully helped her raise her babies.

This year though 4 of her 10 strong brood survived. Sadly, her long time mate died over the winter so who knows who fathered this lot. It is interesting that during the years she was mated to the male without a white ring round his neck she wasn't bothered by other males but this year she definitely has. It is very unusual for mallards to have only one mate and it is sad to see her long-time companion is gone.

Smudge and chicks 2014

white mallard duck with duckling
white mallard duck with duckling | Source
making a splash
making a splash | Source
Smudge's babies
Smudge's babies | Source

© 2011 annmackiemiller

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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      9 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Beautiful story with great photos!

    • profile image

      Margy 

      9 years ago

      Love the pictures. We have a white duck born the spring of 2011 living in our condo pond. We all love her and wish her well. She is full grown now in January of 2012 and beautiful.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      9 years ago from Washington

      How adorable AGAIN - your pictures are so clear - I'm working on my photography portion still as I just started using the SLR camera. I think my settings might be amiss but I'm going to keep at it until I 'get it' one of these days.

      Great hub and again, loved your hub in the contest. Birding has been added back to my list of to do's - I have no idea how I have been away from it for so long! Probably the malamutes~~~

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