Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Empty Nester...

About eight weeks ago, we found an interesting, rather large, egg in our flower bed behind a peony bush. Not sure what it exactly was, we decided to leave it alone for fear that it was still alive and its mother would return for it. Sure enough, the next morning a pair of mallard ducks was seen together in the lawn and, by the end of the day, the female had laid several more eggs and created a nest! Pretty cool, right? Well, we did the research, found out that Ma Duck would lay roughly eight eggs and, eventually, Pa Duck would leave her and continue sowing his oats. Meanwhile, Ma would stay around for the hatching and then take her ducklings off to a water source.

We kept on eye on the nest, observed the mother take her place on the nest when the male left, and decided to put out some cracked corn to keep her fed during the period. Here's a photo of her nesting comfortably (she has such beautiful coloring and markings):

So we carefully made sure to keep away from direct contact with the duck or the nest, and went about our business in anticipation of soon seeing the ducklings when they hatched and before Ma Duck led them off for life in the water.

One morning we placed a pile of corn out and figured we would check on her the following morning. Would you know 8 a.m. the next day, the eggs had hatched and the young were gone. The hatching must have taken place shortly after we placed the corn and then Ma decided it was time to begin the trek to the pond. Here is all we were left with:

All eight eggs were hatched (not eaten by a predator) and the empty shells lay cracked around the area. Well, guess we don't get to wish the newborns well. I'm feeling like such an empty nester now....waaaaay before my time. All the same, it was nice to help out in the process.

No comments: