As I was taking pictures, my husband ran out to Ace Hardware to get a bag of cracked corn. We figured she was hungry. The babies nibbled at the bread I was offering, but mostly the mother consumed the bread. She must have been starving, staying close to her clutch as they began to emerge.
Here’s a video:
After about 5 hours of this incredible show, the mother mallard climbed out of the pond, with her ducklings closely following. They exited out the back yard, went through a gap in our fence and traveled to points unknown. I did some reading about mallards, and it is common that they abandon their nest, but I wasn’t sure if that meant our pond too. I guess it did. There were a couple of things that might have factored in her decision to leave. 1. Our presence. 2. Our net. This net had confused her as she would always fly in from wherever she visited to feed. She’d bounce on the net for a while before figuring out how to return to her nest. 3. The koi. She might not have appreciated sharing the pond, though I doubt she would have that privacy in nature. 4. No pond plants. She seemed to really like perching on the pickerel, but there wasn’t enough room for the duckling dozen.
I have heard that mallards will return to the location of a successful nesting, so we hope to see her again soon!
In 2002, my husband hand dug a large pond, approximately 5,000 gallons. We bought four koi, and have since enjoyed many days and nights in front of the pond. In coastal Delaware, we are often visited by Blue Herons and as a result of their many visits, we’ve had to put up a net. I purchased 3 ft tall copper hooks (about eight) and placed them around the perimeter of the ponds edge, and we suspend the net on the hooks. This allows for the net to sit up approximately 18 inches from the water, so that frogs can come and go! We drain the pond approximately every two years or so, and once, we had to replace the liner. In early April, while my husband was draining the pond and moving things around, he startled a mother Mallard duck. And she him! She squawked and dove into the water. My husband saw her nest, and counted 12 eggs!
We left her alone and on Friday, May 10, we saw her swimming in the pond and talking to her babies, encouraging each to take their first plunge in our fresh water! I’ll post more about this later!