May 10 2013
We tend to think that birds with precocial chicks have an easier time as parents than those whose nestlings are naked and blind at birth, but this isn’t necessarily so.
Ducklings can walk, swim and feed themselves shortly after they hatch but their mobility is problematic. They have no idea where to find food nor how to stay safe. All they know is “Stay with Mom!”
Mother leads them to feeding areas and shows them what to taste. The ducklings peck in the vicinity until they find good food.
Her hardest responsibility is protecting them from danger. Baby ducklings are tasty morsels for raptors, minks, cats, dogs, large fish and snapping turtles. If you watch a mallard family day to day you’ll notice the number of ducklings decreases over time. Mom does her best but danger lurks.
This mother mallard has had pretty good success so far. Out of 8 to 13 eggs she still has six chicks.
Until they can fly she has mothers’ work to do.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original. Today’s Tenth Page is inspired by page 483 of Ornithology by Frank B. Gill.)