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A Mallard Family Adventure.

July 14, 2012

One sunny day this past June, I heard that a special family was down at the swimming pool at my apartment complex.  I grabbed my camera and went down to see them.  Here’s what I saw.

Before continuing this story, a little background is in order.  Last March, a pair of Mallards showed up on the apartment complex where I live.  This is an annual occurrence, perhaps by the same pair of ducks or their offspring.   Here’s the pair scouting for nesting spots:

Mallards are sometimes tolerant of humans.  This pair would waddle away from a photographer not bearing food, but they are much calmer than your typical wild duck.  They’ve adapted to human presence quite well, to the point of nesting behind bushes near apartment front doors!  That certainly puts them in the ‘not shy’ category for me.  One more example of nature getting along with us when the need arises.  Or when it’s to the advantage of this pair, at least.

This pair of Mallards aren’t always successful in raising a family- of course, this is nature’s way.  We’d be up to our waists in creatures if everything survived.  One tragic occurrence in a previous year was the Mallard ducklings dying in a swimming pool overnight- they couldn’t get out of the pool like their mother could, and nobody was around to help them, sadly.  I assume they starved to death or died of hypothermia.

So, when I heard that the Mallard family was in the swimming pool, I knew that the little ducklings would need some help.

Dad isn’t around- not uncommon, as mom is the provider for her little ones at this stage.  Here, the ducklings stick very close to mom.  Perhaps this is their very first swim- instinct led her to bring them to the nearest body of water.  This is all well and good, but there’s nothing to eat in the swimming pool, unfortunately.  This is where human intervention is justified in altering the course of events.

Mom is somewhat alarmed- you can see her crest feathers ruffled up.  Two ladies and a photographer are trying to corral them into a corner of the pool so that the ducklings can be fished out using a pool net.  The ducklings must be wondering what is going on.

Mom hopped out of the pool, but the ducklings couldn’t follow- they are too small to hop up to solid ground.  I think mom was trying to lead us away from her little ones.

One of the helpful ladies scooped up 7 of the 8 ducklings in a pool net and let them tumble out onto the ground near their mom.  Quite exciting for the family!

The ducklings race for mom who is hiding under a reclining chair and quacking a lot.  But what about the 8th duckling?

The last duckling was still in the pool, peeping up a storm, feeling lost without its family, I’m sure.  They are tremendously cute at this age.  I’m reminded of a pet duckling I had when I was little, and how ducklings would peep loudly if their ‘mother’ wasn’t around.

The last duckling is scooped up and hits the ground running to get to the safety of the family group!

Mom gathers up all of the kids and decides what to do next.

She decides to head for a nearby river or pond, both of which are merely a couple of blocks away.  I’m glad she’s taking her family to a place where they can be safer.  She makes the journey in a confident manner that I’m sure she’s made many times before.  I hang back a ways and take photographs of them as they walk through the apartment complex.

Where mom can hop up onto a step, the ducklings have to walk around.  That’s a mighty big jump at this tender age.

The ducklings know to keep close to mom, and trust her to watch out for them.  She keeps a vigilant eye out around them, and I have to back off once when she noticed me behind them a bit too close.

Imagine what a big adventure this is for the ducklings- they’ve never been where they are walking now.

This was the tricky part.  They crossed the fairly busy road in front of my apartment complex at lunchtime, but luckily, traffic at this particular moment was slow.  The traffic lights were in the duck’s favor.  I was ready to run out in the road and make sure traffic would slow down for them, but that wasn’t necessary.

The whole family made it- the most dangerous part of their journey was past.  They now walked through another apartment complex on their way to either a corporate pond (complete with ‘Please Don’t Feed The Ducks’ signs) another block or two over, or a river just a little ways past the pond.

Here is the last glimpse of the Mallard family that I had before they disappeared in the apartment complex landscaping across the road.  I’m glad that all was well.  Bet I’ll see you next year, mom!

27 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2012 8:58 pm

    A wonderful, wonderful post, Traci. I love it. 🙂

  2. July 14, 2012 9:00 pm

    I shared it on my FB page.

  3. July 14, 2012 10:57 pm

    These guys are so cute!

  4. July 14, 2012 10:59 pm

    what a wonderful post..this made my day..

  5. July 14, 2012 11:35 pm

    What a great story with wonderful shots of the Mallard family! I hope they made it to a safe place.

  6. July 15, 2012 12:32 am

    How cute that is! I hope they can now stay safe!

  7. July 15, 2012 6:14 am

    Very cute! They look as if they felt right at home. Nice post. Jane

  8. July 15, 2012 10:32 am

    Good story.

  9. July 15, 2012 12:17 pm

    Cute story … thank you for taking care of the babies. I hope they find a safe place to swim and grow big.

  10. July 15, 2012 1:38 pm

    Mallards do seem to turn up around people. I remember a mallard and her chicks crossing a major highway in front of a shopping mall. I saw them and put on my hazard lights and thankfully, all the other cars slowed down to see what was going on and then stopped to watch. There was a big pond just behind the mall and I’m sure that was her destination.

  11. John Northcutt Young permalink
    July 15, 2012 3:57 pm

    Wonderful story with a great happy ending!

  12. July 15, 2012 8:43 pm

    You live in a pretty bird friendly place, Great story

  13. July 15, 2012 8:58 pm

    Hi Seasons, So happy for the little duck family that they had adjusted well after their ouster form “the cement pond” (to quote the Beverly Hillbillies TV show from the old CBS show). Your pictures are swell and I so enjoyed today’s post. Excellent! Have a wonderful coming week!

  14. July 16, 2012 7:50 am

    Great story. Mallards are so funny-I love seeing them.

  15. July 16, 2012 11:03 am

    What a beautiful story! They are so adorable, I am glad you “followed” them around after they left the pool, and even “gladder” you shared photos and their story. Thank you 🙂

  16. July 16, 2012 2:33 pm

    This is just tooooo cute!

  17. July 16, 2012 4:32 pm

    What an adventure!

  18. July 16, 2012 8:20 pm

    so lucky to have seen this trail of ducks! I love them crossing the road. Glad that there was no traffic!

  19. July 16, 2012 10:14 pm

    A very cute post, I’m glad it ended well!

  20. July 17, 2012 2:28 am

    Glad they made it to safety, thanks to your help! I have held up traffic myself before now, on a busy road, while a goose with a brood of goslings crossed over. Lovely photos and a great story.

  21. July 17, 2012 9:01 am

    How wonderful. This post would be a delightful children’s book – children of all ages! Thank you, Ellen

  22. July 17, 2012 9:09 am

    Great picture story, W.S….I remember back in Minnesota…going to our Pastor’s house…and rang the doorbell…looked down in the flower bed right beside the door…there was a mom sitting on her eggs…our Pastor said this happens every year…the nice thing was they lived on a small lake…so not far for mom to go with the little ones…it is something how they live “with us” isn’t it…your picture story sure makes that plain…great work…let’s people know how we all live together…not all animal life dies when we arrive on the scene…thanks again…I’m no longer surprised by your discoveries, they come every time you post…you are good!…

  23. July 20, 2012 8:12 am

    Oh, I loved this! I love to go to the creek and watch them. This was a wonderful adventure, so glad you shared it with us. 🙂

  24. July 21, 2012 7:58 am

    Many thanks for the comments, everyone! I’m glad this was a happy story!

  25. July 25, 2012 1:47 am

    Ducks in the pool just doesn’t look right! LOL Love how the little ones stay so close to mom.

  26. July 27, 2012 6:14 pm

    I just LOVE this photostory. Thank you! (Maybe we need a duck ramp in the pool?)

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