Baby Ducklings and more

reblogged from http://www.words4it.com/

Playing peek-a-boo with babies

May 3rd, 2012 § 2

The 2012 Brighton Millpond Fertility Tournament has begun! Canada Geese aren’t part of the tournament because of creching, but they are exofficio participants due to their abundance on the millpond. Above, one of five week old goslings peeks out to see why my camera’s flash is lighting up the night. Eventually, all of the goslings left the warmth of mom’s belly to meet me. On another night(below left), mom and dad were teaching their brood to beg park visitors for food. They’ll need all they can get. They grow really fast and will reach the weight of their parents (up to 18 pounds) by the end of summer.

I saw the very first ducklings (day-old) last Sunday night, but it was near dark and they were in the distance so I couldn’t count their numbers. There were 8-10, I think. Below might be that mother. I photographed her the next night during a light rain. I didn’t disturb her so I still couldn’t get a count, but the spread of her wings indicates she has a sizable number under her. Note how nicely she blends in with her environment. The hens cryptic color and markings help protect her while she’s nesting and guarding her young.

Farther north on the pond, a dark bird of unknown species with a white bib and vivid teal green wing patch gave birth to four tykes today (below). They are tiny balls of fuzz. She let me come close because she recognizes me from winter feedings.

All four of her prodigy are darkly marked like she is although her mate for the summer is a typically marked mallard. There are only about four white-bibbed ducks on the pond so these might add to their numbers.

Perhaps their dark coloration will help them stay invisible to predators on land. In the water, they will be just as endangered as lighter ducklings. Bass and turtles will see them. Mortality of ducklings during the first two weeks of their lives is very high. It’s reasonable to expect half of the ducklings pictured in this post to disappear in their first 14 days.

What surprises me about these early ducklings is that their moms started nesting about April first. That means they kept their eggs warm through nighttime temperatures below 20 degrees! That’s quite a feat. Stay tuned. The tournament is just getting started. There will be lots of entries from now until at least early August.

Aren’t they gorgeous … this is by my artist blogger friend Doug who lives in Michigan and has a wonderful nature blog based around the Brighton Millpond. Check it out here http://www.words4it.com/

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4 thoughts on “Baby Ducklings and more

  1. I love your photo essays on the birds around you — I’ve learned so much! It seems self-evident that the mortality rate for the ducklings is so high……..NOW that I know it:) Lovely pics……… I’ll enjoy watching the tournament, haha

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