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Old 04-27-2018, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Pure Michigan!
4,498 posts, read 7,762,268 times
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Earlier today when I put my small dog outside she went underneath one of our pine trees and much to my surprise, flushed out a female mallard duck who had been sitting on a nest of seven eggs. The nest is very well hidden and I had no idea it was there or I would have put my dog out in a different area so that she wouldn't have disturbed the mother duck but it was too late. The duck flew away and now, almost four hours later, she still isn't back.

I know nothing about the nesting habits of mallard ducks so does anyone know if a.) the mother duck will come back and b.) if she comes back after all these hours will the eggs still hatch since she hasn't been sitting on them for this time? It is in the low 60s here today so at least it isn't really cold but I will feel terrible if my dog scaring off this mother duck will cause all of these babies to die and not hatch!
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Old 04-27-2018, 01:50 PM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
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I think she'll be back as long as no dogs or humans have messed with the eggs...maybe even if they have...

our resident wildlife biologist might chime in for the answer.
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Old 04-27-2018, 02:38 PM
 
Location: on the wind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canudigit View Post
Earlier today when I put my small dog outside she went underneath one of our pine trees and much to my surprise, flushed out a female mallard duck who had been sitting on a nest of seven eggs. The nest is very well hidden and I had no idea it was there or I would have put my dog out in a different area so that she wouldn't have disturbed the mother duck but it was too late. The duck flew away and now, almost four hours later, she still isn't back.

I know nothing about the nesting habits of mallard ducks so does anyone know if a.) the mother duck will come back and b.) if she comes back after all these hours will the eggs still hatch since she hasn't been sitting on them for this time? It is in the low 60s here today so at least it isn't really cold but I will feel terrible if my dog scaring off this mother duck will cause all of these babies to die and not hatch!
It will probably depend on how long they have been incubated. The eggs don't start developing right after being laid and there is some delay between completing the clutch and start of incubation. Is there a lot of down in the nest? If not, she was still laying or had barely started. If there is, she was incubating. Obviously the farther along they are in development the more easily they can be damaged by chilling. Still, only the female incubates, and they do need to rest, feed, and drink occasionally. The difference is, when she needs to leave the nest she'll cover them with down. You might do that for her. When we'd find duck or goose nests during our surveys we would cover eggs with nest down and dry grass if handy. Also hides them from view of predators. Don't worry about your scent. Most birds have a poor sense of smell. Its pretty impressive how long duck eggs can stay fresh. If she has been setting on them for a while, she's more likely to return to the nest after being disturbed. She has more "invested". If the clutch was newly laid, she is more likely to abandon them and start somewhere else. Watch to see if she hangs around.

Last edited by Parnassia; 04-27-2018 at 02:50 PM..
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Old 04-27-2018, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Pure Michigan!
4,498 posts, read 7,762,268 times
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Thanks so much for your replies, it is very helpful!

So far she still isn't back and I don't see any down at all in the nest. There is a large pond in our subdivision and I walked by it a few hours ago and didn't see her hanging around the pond but there is also a river about a half mile from us so maybe she went there?

I really hope she comes back and they hatch!
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:02 PM
 
Location: on the wind
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Hard to say. If she hadn't been incubating the eggs can sit quite a long time. Heat is actually more of a threat to fresh eggs than chill. Leave the nest alone. Look at it this way....if she doesn't return she is probably starting another clutch somewhere safer so duckings may still result. The eggs won't go to waste. They will become lunch for a hungry something.

Last edited by Parnassia; 04-27-2018 at 03:33 PM..
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canudigit View Post
Thanks so much for your replies, it is very helpful!

So far she still isn't back and I don't see any down at all in the nest. There is a large pond in our subdivision and I walked by it a few hours ago and didn't see her hanging around the pond but there is also a river about a half mile from us so maybe she went there?

I really hope she comes back and they hatch!


Oh, I hope so too.
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Old 04-27-2018, 03:55 PM
 
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LArge box in garage, with some wood chips and hot lamp set at the box edge. That will be your incubator. She's not coming back and you have chance to become a mama. It's a big responsibility, Pete.
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ukrkoz View Post
LArge box in garage, with some wood chips and hot lamp set at the box edge. That will be your incubator. She's not coming back and you have chance to become a mama. It's a big responsibility, Pete.
That's a poor way to try to hatch eggs, and disturbing a wild duck's nest to take the eggs is a Federal offense.

The best thing to do is do nothing at all and stay away from the nest for the next 3-4 weeks.
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:23 AM
 
Location: Pure Michigan!
4,498 posts, read 7,762,268 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear Foot View Post
That's a poor way to try to hatch eggs, and disturbing a wild duck's nest to take the eggs is a Federal offense.

The best thing to do is do nothing at all and stay away from the nest for the next 3-4 weeks.
This is kind of what I thought, plus I wasn't sure what to do if they do hatch, as they need some kind of adult duck to guide them and feed them at first. My daughter used to work at a bird rescue sanctuary and she said that if babies get conditioned to humans then they cannot survive in the wild. This pertained to song birds, I'm not sure if it applies to ducks but I wouldn't want to take a chance. I didn't realize that disturbing the nest was a federal offense, glad we didn't do that!

We have never gotten close to the nest at all, just looked with binoculars from our deck so as not to disturb anything, but sadly, this morning three of the seven eggs are missing. There is a broken shell from one, but the other two are completely gone. My guess is that a hungry raccoon had his way with them, although I have also seen a small fox in our back yard from time to time, so who knows? It's sad, but at least it is part of the grand scheme of nature and some human didn't interfere and destroy them, that would have been much worse.
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
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When the mother is scared off, it's unlikely for a return. If you want to try to hatch the eggs you need an incubator, which you're unlikely to have and by the time you get the eggs will be cold for too long, but it keeps the eggs at an even temperature day in and day out. after awhile, the eggs will start to hatch. Some will make it, some will not. You'll want to have oatmeal, chix feed and water available for the ducklings, then you have to raise them.

Alternatively, the dog did what dogs do, the mama duck did what mama ducks do...just let nature do what's supposed to happen. That's the course of things. Don't feel bad about it.
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