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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb--Special Edition

Updated on July 2, 2014
Mallard with Ducklings, Born April 29
Mallard with Ducklings, Born April 29 | Source

This was the only day that I saw Mallard ducklings, April 29. Today, I was pleasantly surprised, for there were an additional two families, other than my first born. Six were located first, and then I came up with another nineteen at the northern end of Boomer Lake. Mallards are like Canada Geese, and they also tend to adopt those without families of their own. Motherhood is generally a strong bond, no matter what the species. There are always exceptions to the rule, just like anything else.

Female mallard with ducklings on May 14
Female mallard with ducklings on May 14 | Source

These abundant birds can be found nearly anywhere there is shallow, fresh water. Some of them even reside in salt marshes and inlets and bays. They primarily dabble for plants and algae, and will also take in small crustaceans, mollusks and insects. The young are precocial, which means that they are in the water shortly after hatching, and there is one brood each year per pair.

Fortunately, Mallards are very adaptable to humanity and will live and nest virtually anywhere. They will even hybridize with other waterfowl, so pure breeds could tend to die out where there have been domestic ducks released.

Brisk Winds Can Be Hard on Tiny Ducklings

Mother and a Part of Her Brood of Nineteen on May 14.
Mother and a Part of Her Brood of Nineteen on May 14. | Source

Mallards are sometimes susceptible to parasitic brooding by Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal, Common Goldeneyes, and even other Mallards. These eggs are generally accepted when they resemble the eggs of the host Mallard, although the hen may attempt to eject them or even abandon the nest if parasitism occurs during egg laying. Mallards of all ages (but especially young ones) and in all locations must contend with a wide diversity of predators, which includes raptors, the Corvids(Magpies, jays, crows, etc.), opposums, snakes, turtles, skunks, large fish, etc. The most prolific natural predators of adult Mallards are fox and hawks, although both kill far fewer than humans.

Have Your Own Mallard Souvenir

During spring duckling season of '04 at Tri-State Bird Rescue, I recall a large group that I helped to care for during my shifts. There was one that was picked on by all the ducklings, very meek and quiet little one. I used to take him to the bathtub to swim, and he didn't want to be left alone, as he would cry and peep incessantly. I'd bathe him, cup my hands, and let the warm water run down his back and he would swim and play for about 20 minutes. Then when it was time to return him to the duck room, I'd carry him on my shoulder in a towel. He would quack, and so would I on the return trip. I guess we talked to each other too much, as a few heads would peer out of rooms, thinking that there was a loose duckling in the hallway. Oh, well, I guess I played the part well enough.

Mother Mallard With Portion of Her Brood on May 14
Mother Mallard With Portion of Her Brood on May 14 | Source

It's Not All Wine and Roses For Wildlife

As much as we would like to think that it is easy for our nature, it proves to be a daily challenge. There are predators to be astute to and flee from successfully, and be lucky enough to survive what humanity has created. There are fishing lines that can cut off the circulation to legs if wrapped around them, plastic bags cannot be digested, plastic rings that hold soda cans together can choke the life out of an animal. Lead shot is especially deadly, as dabblers like these beautiful ducklings can ingest these pellets. Lead poisoning is an extremely slow and painful death.

Help us to keep trash in the proper receptacles, so that our wildlife can survive pain free and have as good a life as possible without human intervention. Please keep the "wild" in wildlife. In the meantime, happy birding, and thanks for everything that you do to help our animals.

A Thorough Wash
A Thorough Wash | Source


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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Cindy. We must be better at being caretakers for our wonderful nature before it is all gone.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      I never knew so much about mallards - but birds in general are so fascinating. I loved this hub! I completely agree that it is our responsibility as humans to provide a trash-free environment for everything else - plants and animals - with whom we share the planet. :)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Klara. Animals have a lot to endure for the changing weather conditions. They get caught in inclement weather, just like we do. Oftentimes, they know when it is coming, but when you have a lot of young ones, it is harder to move around when fast moving weather approaches.

    • profile image

      klarawieck 6 years ago

      Oh, wow, Deb! The article was great, but the video just broke my heart! Those little babies! How does that happen! Thanks for informing us on these issues. Your work is remarkable.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You will get there, Nell. I go out every day to see what surprises are there before me. I find so many of them, but equally, I know I miss so many. One cannot see everything.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, your work sounds amazing, and I can quite understand how you got involved. I live by the river and we have loads of Mallards but I never realised that they are prey to so many different things from fish to large birds. fascinating hub, and I would love to get involved myself in something similar over here, voted up and fascinating!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jackie, if you need anything for your hubs, let me know and I will provide it if I have it. All I request is that you credit the pics to me.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Appreciate it, Annie. I called Parks and Rec to request that a trash can be put out there for all the people that dump their trash out in that area. Let's see if I get it!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad you like it, Tammy. It brought a smile to my face when I saw all those sweet ducklings.

    • profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago

      One of my favorites so far I love the pics

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 6 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for this insight into the world of Mallard Ducks. It is so sad to think of how humans interfere with their daily lives and it is all preventable if only people would wise up and keep litter out of the waterways. Your work sounds fascinating. I love the clip of the roly poly ducklings and the way the mother duck retained her composure and kept her babies together. A lovely informative hub, thank you for sharing. My votes and best wishes to you, Deb.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great hub, I would love to get some wild life pictures but am rarely so lucky.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great one Deb! The video and pics are well-fitting too. Love this story as well and especially the reminder to keep the "wild" in wildlife and be cautious when throwing away trash, etc.. Always looking forward to more hubs from you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Joyce. I thought it was time to do something on ducklings.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great hub I love it and the video is precious mom and her kids.

      Vote up interesting and beautiful.


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