It always happens much to the chagrin of park visitors. The broods of ducklings diminish in size from day to day. Of course the millpond couldn’t sustain every ducklings hatched but that doesn’t reduce the sadness when someone sees 14 ducklings in Brood 1 and then discovers only two remain alive after three weeks (above). Dot (below left), the mom for Brood 1, is Onyx’s sister but Onyx isn’t doing much better with her troop. They hatched last Friday with 10 in the clutch but three days later, there were only four remaining (below right).
Last summer, Dot didn’t nest which isn’t unusual for a first year duck. Onyx nested in 2015 but lost all of her ducklings in about five days’ time.
Onyx appears to be a more attentive mother this year and kept her ducklings in view although not always close. By Tuesday evening, she had lost another one so she’s down to three as I write this.
One of the pond’s fishermen told me he caught and released a 6-7 pound bass on Tuesday in the area where Onyx takes her offspring to find food. It’s possible that largemouth has been eating very well this week.
I didn’t get an accurate count of Brood 10 when they hatched. It seemed the Mallard had 8 on the evening I first saw her. Now she has five and trusts me enough to fall asleep as I photographed her Tuesday evening (below). Then again, trust may have nothing to do with it. Maybe her little darlings wore her out during the day.
Brood 2 only has 8 of the original 12, but they have done well considering their mom abandoned them. Two Mallard drakes roost near them sometimes (below) which might give them an extra moment’s notice should a predator come calling.
I’ve updated the numbers in this year’s Fertility Tournament if you want to see where we stand now.