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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Six wild mallard eggs for Easter

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Aren't they beautiful?

The mother found this teepee shelter in the black locust wood near the old fallen apple tree to build her nest. She will lay one egg a day until she decides her brood is enough — maybe 10, or as many as 18 eggs. Then she will set her warm body on them for about a month. The ducklings will all hatch the same day, whichever ones survive the coyotes, foxes, hawks and crows. The drake will hang around for a few days, lounging and dabbling in the nearby pond, which is about 200 feet away. He will moult all his beautifully colored feathers and be flightless for about a month, in the eclipse plumage phase. The hen will show her brood the way to the pond, where they will know by instinct how to catch insects to eat. Then she will go moult her feathers and be flightless for a while too. In about 10 weeks after hatching, the ducklings will have feathers that look like their mom's.

We are starting to search for morel mushrooms in this wood, and the woods by the pond. Gotta look out for sprouting poison ivy though.



Here are a female and male mallard from the river on my campus.
















Happy Easter!

53 comments:

Susan said...

The best kind of Easter eggs! I love Mallards...so beautiful. Happy Easter to you, Ruthie!

rosaria said...

Lovely, All nature is in rebirth around us, Love the season, and the hope it brings to all of us.
Happy Easter.

Ruth said...

Susie, we were excited to find them yesterday. I didn't see the mama, but Don did.

Happy Easter to you and David!

Ruth said...

Rosaria, for the first time this spring we felt that rebirth in nature. It has been so cold. Suddenly everything was greening and openly wild yesterday. Happy Easter.

Grandmother said...

I wonder how all the eggs hatch at once when laid so many days apart? Beautiful mallard and a great story of their life cycle. It's all hopeful isn't it? Buona Pasqua!

Ruth said...

Hi, Mary. The hatch is determined by the start of incubation. Since the mother doesn't begin setting until the last egg is laid, they will all develop at the same rate and hatch at about the same time. It's extraordinary, isn't it? Those little beings in waiting.

Buona Pasqua to you!

Brendan said...

What a wonderful living Easter basket! I love how the mother "decides" how many eggs are enough -- don't you wish you had that much instinct, were connected to that old knowledge, of how many children to bear? I wonder if they know how many will survive and then tally the count ... Here the eggs are naturally colored and the scene so rich that it's no wonder that Easter celebrations have never been able to free themselves from their deeply pagan vernal roots. You found a wonder in your own back yard, and you didn't have to plant it there. - Brendan

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

hi ruth, i love your wonderful pics! her eggs are so beautiful and what a gift for easter! i enjoyed reading about the mallards lifestyle...had no clue they couldn't fly for a month. that is a bit dangerous. i do hope all of the babies and the mother survive from a predator attack. i thinks female ducks have it tough...have a wonderful easter!

Ruth said...

Oh Brendan, it was so funny yesterday. I kept trying to write a poem about these eggs, and everything that came out was a cliché. I was giddy, and I wanted to write about these eggs, and spring, and Easter, as if it was the first time anyone had ever discovered such springness, such lovely new life, such fertility! Even the new grass, so like a baby's akimbo locks of hair, wanted to be like Easter basket grass, and I thought, what is wrong with this picture!?

:-)

Ruth said...

Hi, Kritter, thanks a bunch. I was thinking the same about that month when ducks can't fly being dangerous. Don't get me started on what female ducks go through, poor things . . .

:-)

Astrid said...

Hello, Neighbour :), I think I will go for a glass of water this time, thank you.

Eggs and Easter, they go hand in hand, wonderful all that new life in spring.
I know it will be a joy to 'follow' the eggs into the pond and something tells me that we will get pictures of that adventure, called LIFE.
A delightful post on this wonderful Easter Sunday.
Vrolijk Pasen to you, my dear sister!

Ruth said...

Hallo, buur :-) Astrid. Only water? OK, it's from the tap, hope that's all right.

We were happy to discover the eggs when Don saw the mama leaving the nest. It was delightful, just the day before Easter. Yes, you know you can count on me to show you more of their new life in the days to come, lieve zus. Vrolijk Pasen to you and Ginnie!

steven said...

ruth this reminds me of the story my son told me the other day about a mated pair of ducks who were standing at the door to a mall. he had to pass them as he walked in so he stopped and of course they both looked at him but it was his sense that they were both really really looking at him. so he completely stopped and they quacked at him. he was convinced they wanted something but what? so time passed and he decided to enter the mall at which point both birds followed him in. oh no! what to do what to do? so he turned around and left with the birds following. "i didn't really want to go in the mall anyway . . . " he told me. the birds knew that. steven

Ruth said...

Steven, that was what [you] teachers call a teachable moment, I guess, and I love it.

Ginnie said...

As Astrid says, this is so Easter! We had a delightful brunch at our Lindeborg center...about 30 of us. We were there for almost 3 hours and shared lots of laughter. That, too, is what Easter is all about. Joy and laughter. Let's hope this mama mallard will be smiling soon, as she hatches her young-uns. How wonderful.

Vagabonde said...

I bet you were excited when you found these eggs – just imagine, going on a egg hunt at Easter and finding real live eggs! Formidable ma chère Ruth et merci to have taken us there with you. Your pictures of the mallard and lady are very sweet.

Ruth said...

Boots, a three hour brunch with laughter, it sounds heavenly! I am so happy that your "family" there is surrounding you so well, and you them. It is pure pleasure watching your life bloom in the Netherlands.

Vrolijk Pasen, and much love.

Ruth said...

Cher Vagabonde, it was more delight than I could almost stand. Thank you for your spring visit, so full of shared pleasures.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Wonderful. Why is it that the ritual of moulting and being flightless strikes me as the perfect metaphor for this interlude between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, what a connection to make, how beautiful! So much of the story of life is about giving something up in a "death" so that new life can begin from the fertilized soil.

George said...

Happy Easter, Ruth, and thanks for the post reminding us all that death and resurrection come in many forms, all of which anchor us in faith that what is lost can always be recovered. Everything is constantly in transit through the never-ending cycles of growth, entropy, and regeneration.

Ruth said...

George, you are welcome. Every spring it seems as if I get more excited when I'm surrounded by the life that grows up out of dormancy and the deaths from the last cycle. Maybe it's because we live in this place where nature is within a walk out the door. I'm awfully grateful for it. Thanks to you for your ongoing message of impermanence and renewal. Happy Easter.

ellen abbott said...

how delightful to find the nest.

judie said...

Beautiful nature shots. I hope you keep us posted on the progress of the duckies. Baby ducks are sooooo cute following their momma around.

Ruth said...

Yes, Ellen . . . and delightful to find Hahn-Bin, I'm listening while I type . . . thank you.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Judie. I will. I have checked today, and there are still six eggs. I hope mama hasn't abandoned these eggs because we were hovering yesterday. We tried not to be intrusive.

VioletSky said...

I am always excited when I find eggs in a nest. I hope all of hers survive the wilds of nature.
Happy Easter to you, Ruth.

Christina said...

these eggs are beautiful. and mushrooms... with a good bread and a bit of butter in the pan, dinner is ready.

happy easter, my dear friend.
xo

Loring Wirbel said...

Lucky you, it's snowing here! Happy Easter, Ruth!

Maureen said...

How wonderful. I did not know the mother decided how many eggs to lay. A fascinating fact of nature.

Wishing you a lovely Easter Sunday, Ruth.

Friko said...

Good luck to the mallards and happy Easter to you.

Terresa said...

Beautiful eggs, what a spring treat!

I've always loved the iridescent blue/green of the mallord's head, nearly surreal.

Happy Easter, Ruth!

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, imagine not being able to fly having shed your feathers. What a challenge that must be to stay warm and survive predators. Do the Ducks stay in the water when they are featherless or hide a found shelter?
I am almost ready to return to work after a blissful week off. Had a close call with my son health issue, but all seems well now. At least when issues arrived i was able to deal and not have the stress of work too.

Thinking about a new puppy this spring. I can't decide if i should wait for summer when i am home full time. My husband thinks not. He wants us to get the puppy before our old rosie dog leaves the planet.

Big decision as scarlet said i'll think about it tomorrow:) xoxo cb

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Your photo of the eggs would have fit in perfectly with my photo essay this weekend, "Is Anybody Home?" I found all sorts of homes in Nature with not a creature stirring. They work the graveyard shift.

Deborah said...

That ducks moult to the point of flightlessness was news to me! Poor things - I can't help but think how vulnerable they must be.
Your pleasure at these living Easter eggs is contagious, Ruth.

Ruth said...

Happy Easter, Violetski. I hope you find at least one nest with eggs this spring!

Ruth said...

Christina, oh, you'd like to eat the eggs? :-)

Maybe you meant a dinner of mushrooms and bread, and with that I completely agree. Thanks for your Easter visit.

Ruth said...

Oh, Loring! Well we had snow last week, and you are in the mountains. :-)

Ruth said...

Maureen, that fact was news to me too. Yesterday afternoon I scared mama off the nest (inadvertently) and she had just laid #7!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Friko, from me and the ducks. Happy Easter.

Ruth said...

Terresa, that mallard head is otherworldly, yes. Thanks, and Happy Easter.

Ruth said...

Dear Cathy, the ducks hide in marshland reeds or other cover while they can't fly.

I am sorry to hear about your son's close call. I hope all will remain well, and everyone can enjoy a new puppy soon. We talk about a dog here sometimes, but we will probably wait until retirement if we do it, since we're gone all day and they get lonesome by themselves.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Amy. Your photo essay sounds so interesting. I looked for it at your blog without success. I often wish I could be a silent and unobtrusive visitor so that the creatures would hang around with me. I frightened this mallard mom off the nest yesterday before I realized she was hiding in there. I felt bad. She had laid the seventh egg!

Ruth said...

Hello, Deborah! It's good to see you. Yes, this was a new bit of information for me too about their flightless month. Nature has her way of keeping things in balance, doesn't she?

Marcie said...

WOW! Amazing to have found the nest. They are usually so good at hiding them. Wonderful images!

erin said...

poetry rises up out of me when i visit you, as though you are a selfsame mirror, or a body of water that such ducks trust. hope it's been a wonderful weekend. i'm just a bit distracted but wanted to say hello and wish you well.

i had ducks when i was a child:) chi chi and mee mee. hatched them myself. walked me to the bus. eaten by coons.

xo
erin

Oliag said...

The perfect Easter basket Ruth! Thank you for sharing it with us...for me this is a fitting depiction of what we were celebrating this weekend.

Char said...

what a gorgeous find. i hope you had the most beautiful of easters.

Jane Lancaster said...

Delightful!

ds said...

So Nature ensures the protection of the young by rending the parents flightless for the first month. Fascinating! I love watching mallards, there are a couple of families that make their home on a nearby pond, the males all fuss and bluster, and the females...you can practically hear them rolling their eyes and sighing ;) Then there's that book about the Boston ducks Make Way for Ducklings. Classic.

Fabulous springy post, Ruth. Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

WKAR said...

So very much more beautiful that all the glitzy dyed eggs (that I do, and lots of other). Eloquent in their simplicity. Lovely.

WKAR said...

Please note that the WKAR account is really Jeanie the Gypsy and don't reply! I forgot to switch out!

Montag said...

Whenever I see birds' eggs in spring, I think of "Brideshead Revisited" and Sebastian eating plovers' eggs that Lady Marchmain had sent up from London.