While it’s still early enough in the 2010 season for another hen to claim the title, it looks like this is the odds-on favorite at the Brighton Millpond. Eleven ducklings! Click either image to see larger, more detailed versions.
The winner, however, may have cheated. Some hens “ducknap” ducklings from other disinterested moms. To complicate matters, 1) some hens lay eggs in nests that don’t belong to them, 2) ducklings just start following other ducklings they think are their siblings and 3) adopted moms don’t know how to count so they accept wayward ones if they join the party before moms learn to recognize their call or features.
“Creching” is typical in Canada Geese. I think the behavior happens in mallards, too. In the Fertility Tournament, it doesn’t matter how the brood is established. The rules are created by the participants. Personally, I think the distinct colors of the ducklings tell the story. I see at least three, or possibly four, broods in this assemblage. I’m not telling the judges.