How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?

Started May 24, 2017 | Photos
zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 34,967
How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?
3

I happened upon this scene of a napping mottled duck mom sitting on the shore amongst cypress knees with her ducklings. I could see that there were a lot of ducklings, but really wasn't sure quite how many...at lest 15-18 were clearly visible. I've seen black-bellied whistling ducks with up to 15 ducklings, so if she had 18 or so, that would be the most I'd seen before.

It wasn't until I got home and cropped in, viewed the shot blown up and counted them off, that I discovered AT LEAST 21 ducklings visible here:

21 mottled ducklings with mom...maybe even more?

That's how many I can clearly count based on heads...there's one spot where there possibly could be one or two more who's heads are hidden, so I can't be sure - but I know there are at least the 21.

How many ducklings have you seen from a single hatch? Could this mom have 'adopted' other stray ducklings, or could she have been minding another ducks' kids? There were no other ducks around this spot at the time.

Here's a closeup look into the batch:

This closeup is what makes me think there might be a few more - in the upper right, from this separate frame, there's one duck at the back facing away, and I wasn't sure if he was counted in the first shot.

They're adorable indeed! But I do wonder just how many ducklings one duck can have.

What are your observations or thoughts?

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Justin
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Bobby49 Senior Member • Posts: 2,533
Re: How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?

Now you know why the mother duck was resting.

Jim Beverlin Veteran Member • Posts: 4,886
Re: How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?

Cannot answer your question but they sure are cute and I really like your images.   I live on the Muskegon River and within the next week we should start to see Canada geese with their goslings.   They are cute too.

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JRB

N Deacon
N Deacon Contributing Member • Posts: 888
Re: How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?

Several duck species creche their young and one "creche mother" will tend the young of more than one brood. In survival terms it means that if one is predated it is less likely to be one of hers, the downside being that the bigger the creche the more unlikely that she will be able to herd and protect them all. Either way, it's not uncommon so it must be beneficial on balance.

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zackiedawg
OP zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 34,967
Indeed!

Bobby49 wrote:

Now you know why the mother duck was resting.

I definitely don't blame her for resting - more respect to the 21 kids who were quite respectful of mom and were all nicely behaving and resting quietly with her!

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Justin
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zackiedawg
OP zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 34,967
Deacon,

N Deacon wrote:

Several duck species creche their young and one "creche mother" will tend the young of more than one brood. In survival terms it means that if one is predated it is less likely to be one of hers, the downside being that the bigger the creche the more unlikely that she will be able to herd and protect them all. Either way, it's not uncommon so it must be beneficial on balance.

Thank you for the information.  I hadn't really heard of this, but thought it might be a possibility.  I've never actually seen a duck's eggs in the wild well enough to count how many are laid - I usually only get a peek at a few when they stand to reposition...so always hard to tell just how many are in there.  By the time the ducklings have hatched and are following behind the parents, no way to know if other ducks laid their eggs in the same nest, or if other ducklings latched onto the group - or if all of the ducklings were of the same parentage.

I've noted with some species such as black-bellied whistling ducks, it's quite common to see duckling batches of 12-15 following the parents around...mottled ducks (similar to mallards) typically haven't had that many that I've ever seen - so finding this group of at least 21 was unusual and unexpected!

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zackiedawg
OP zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 34,967
Re: How Many Ducklings Can One Mom Duck Have?

Jim Beverlin wrote:

Cannot answer your question but they sure are cute and I really like your images. I live on the Muskegon River and within the next week we should start to see Canada geese with their goslings. They are cute too.

They are indeed!  I always enjoy seeing baby birds of all types, but some perching and wading birds are a bit on the ugly side - cute-but-ugly...most ducks and geese come out pretty cute right from the egg.

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Justin
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