HELP! Mallard Nest in our BACKYARD!?! No water, no safety, no ideas

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Nifty-Chicken, May 3, 2010.

  1. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    Remember our thread about our ducklings and the visiting mallards?

    for about a month we assumed they had flown away because we never saw them anymore. Since that time the "pond" in our backyard has totally dried up (happens every year in the Spring) and we thought for sure it would be another year until we saw the mallards again.

    Today my girls were playing in the grassy field behind our house and they saw a female mallard flying like she was hurt. I went out to check on her and she sure was acting odd. I got the impression to be careful because there may be eggs (which surprised me because I otherwise never would have thought about it). Well, lo and behold I looked down and there was a cracked blueish egg on in the grass. I looked around a bit more and discovered this:


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The empty lot where she built her nest is not duck friendly. No water, surrounded on all sides by houses in a very suburban area. It is also disced / rotatilled every year for weed abatement. Heck, for all we know she's done this every year, and every year the eggs get disced under.

    We've also got a ton of coons and skunks around, so I have no idea how she's been able to stay alive, let alone keep her eggs safe.

    So, what should we do (if anything)? We could just let nature take its course and run the risk of her either abandoning them or her/them being eaten by coons. If everything goes "well" she may end up hatching them, but I have no idea what she'd do with trying to raise them in an area with no water and surrounded by houses.

    I'm also a little concerned that we may have spooked her and disturbed the area where she built her nest... hopefully not too much.

  2. Reinbeau

    Reinbeau The Teapot Underground

    I had a duck build a nest in my backyard years ago - there's no water nearby, it's 1/4 mile down the road! I saw her standing down by my brush pile, morning after morning, and couldn't figure out why - until I found the nest when we were burning the pile!! It had been at least two months, and she was not around anymore, so I guess those eggs were infertile. Then just last spring my neighbor, right next door, found a nest built at the base of a hickory that's right next to the road!! Never saw any ducklings hatch from that nest, either.
  3. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    We're wondering if this has been happening every year and we've just never seen the eggs. We've had mallards stop by the flooded part of the yard almost each Winter for the past 5 years.

    I'm just shocked to think she's lived this long without getting eaten. I mean, there's like 10 eggs there so even at an egg a day that's 10 days of her hanging out. I'd be interested in candling them if I was sure she was going to abandon them and/or if I was sure there was no chance for survival if they did hatch.
  4. How soon do you expect the disking for weeds to be done? Personally I'd leave it be unless there was an imminent danger. She will return to the nest most likely, and if she has been around for a month unseen by you she may only have a week left to brood.

    They do OK in the city often. We had them out back of our Ambulance station right in downtown Vancouver for years, and except for a few ducklings that fell through a storm grate and we had to fish out they all walked the 6 blocks to the park after hatching, and back for some nights! By the time they were a week or 2 though they stayed in the park it seemed.

    She is not hurt, she is faking it to draw you off the nest.
  5. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    It almost worked! [​IMG]

    We don't know when the discing will happen, but we'll see if we can get it pushed back until we know for sure if the eggs are abandoned or hatched.

    Will she set on the nest at night and stay on it even if I get close enough to check on her?

    I'm happy to let nature take its course, but I'm concerned she might abandon now that I saw a broken egg, noticed a bunch of ants crawling around, and we disturbed the area quite a bit before we realized there was a nest there.
  6. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    More likely than not, she'll go back to the nest.

    I would stay away as long as you can and try not to disturb her.

    Those eggs take 30 days to hatch so you figure 40 days from her first egg.

    Give her another two weeks and then go check on her.
  7. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
  8. Wynette

    Wynette Crowing

    Sep 25, 2007
    I didn't read all the posts, but member Heidi had a similar situation when she saw a turtle lay eggs in a field adjacent to her work (she works for the county). That field is mowed on a weekly basis. Heidi went & got some orange flags on long, skinny poles (not sure where she got them and marked the area where the eggs were, sticking flags all around it. She then contacted the mowing service and asked them to please not mow there...they were great about it! She marked her calendar so she'd know when the turtles would be hatching, and went & checked each morning & afternoon before leaving work, to make sure they wouldn't hatch on a mow day. Worked!
  9. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    We'll try to keep them all safe!

    Emily was sneaky and saw the mom sitting on the nest, so that's a good sign!

    Should we do anything for providing water for her and her potential babies? I mean, with the recent heat it is dry as a bone out there.

    We'll keep an eye on things and keep you posted.
  10. NurseNettie

    NurseNettie Songster

    Feb 13, 2008
    Northern Maine
    I'd have to agree with the rest of the posts- just let her be. These animals have instincts that we know nothing about. If you see them year after year, then they are probably "familiar" with the conditions ( flooding then drying). They're going to do what they're going to do- and have done so for years without human intervention [​IMG]

    Edited to add: I'd stop going out to check, too-- otherwise she'll be off the nest too long to do any good. Resist the temptation [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 4, 2010

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