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Wild duck in distress?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by quicksilver, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. quicksilver

    quicksilver Hatching

    Apr 20, 2012

    We have a pair of wild mallards who come each spring. For a couple years they have nested, laid egs but had them stolen by foxes.

    This year she nested quite close to the house and has been sitting on her eggs for three to four weeks.

    About an hour ago she left he nest and started quacking wildly in the pond. Normally she covers the eggs but this time she left them uncovered. To me she sounds distressed and it looks like she's been sick in the area around the nest.

    Is this normal? Do we need to do anything to help?

    Thanks for the advice.

  2. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    When you say it looks like she's been sick around the nest what do you mean? Ducks have something called broody poo, which they dump when they get off the nest. It's stinky and runny. Is that what you are talking about?
  3. quicksilver

    quicksilver Hatching

    Apr 20, 2012

    Yes, that is what we saw.

    She sees better today. Perhaps she is just feeling lonely . Also it seems like it's been too long so perhaps she is starting to worry.

  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] Normal incubation period for mallard eggs is 28 days. Perhaps they are nearing hatch time. Best to leave her alone and hope for the best.
  5. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    It takes 28 days, so she has a week left if it's been 3 weeks.

    I wonder if ducks will take off the nest like a broody chicken will? Some of them will shoot off of it on a mission to eat, cackling up a storm. If she bolted off the nest towards the pond, quacking away like girl ducks can do, sounds like it might be normal if she was excited about getting a drink.

    She will eventually abandon it, but if she has a mate then there should be ducklings coming at some point.

    Once they start hatching she won't leave until the ducklings are ready. If you see them, be sure to check for late hatchers... she'll be itching to get them to water as soon as possible.

    Have you seen her mate recently?
  6. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy

    Her seasonal mate is probably off with the males by now, as he's done his job. This is normal behavior for the males once the females begin incubating the eggs.
  7. quicksilver

    quicksilver Hatching

    Apr 20, 2012
    No sign of her mate in weeks. We were away yesterday and when we got home 6 of the 9 had hatched. It looks like 2 died trying to get to the pond, one did not quite make it out of the egg and there are two unhatched eggs left. 3 of the 4 climbed the stairs to the pond but the other one seemed not quite able to make it up the stairs or figure out the ramps that I set up for them. Since it seemed to be following mum around and none would swim without the weaker one I took a chance and lifted it to the top myself and they all went for a swim.

    So.. all the quacking must have been that she was either worried about them being either late or almost ready. Perhaps also she was trying to call her mate.

    I've disposed of the 3 dead ones and wonder if there is any hope for the 2 unhatched eggs? What should I do with these late hatchers?

    I've put some wild bird seed out for them but will try to find something more tomorrow. Any idea what they eat?
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012

  8. Mum

    Mum Songster

    Dec 23, 2011
    Please let nature take its course!

    I do know how upsetting it can be for some eggs not to reach full hatch and to want to intervene; but, trust in nature. Weaklings are weeded out by nature. Not ideal (from a human perspective) but these are wild birds and they trust the laws of Mother Nature. They lay many eggs, knowing they will not get a 100 per cent hatch/success rate. The strongest will survive.
  9. quicksilver

    quicksilver Hatching

    Apr 20, 2012
    hmmm... not sure nature has her best interest at heart. She sounded quite distressed again so I went outside. In the time it took me to write the last post 3 chicks have disappeared and one lies dead on the side of the pond. Perhaps a fox got them

    If the other two eggs hatch, I wonder if I should put some lights on near the pond so that she can see and defend against an attack.

    I feel so sorry for her.
  10. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    Sounds like your foxes are at it again. She will not be able to defend her young against a fox attack, the only thing she will be able to do is get them into the pond fast. Lights would help keep the foxes at bay, but they probably have little ones too and are just trying to find food for them. The ONLY way you'll protect mama and babies is to build a duck house and lock them in at night, but since they are wild it's probably against the law to mess with them at all. I would be very worried also. If the other ones]eggs] have been left in the nest for long periods of time with out her warmth then they are probably not going to hatch, they usually know after a certain time period if they will or not and she had to take care of her others. I wonder why they left 1 of the ducklings though. Was it in the water or out. could have drowned?

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