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.