For the third year in a row we have a mother duck sitting on her nest in a plant box on our roof terrace. It seems to me to be a strange place to breed ducks as it is 5 stories high. Each time the ducklings hatch they are in danger of falling off the roof.

But as I say this is the third year that she has come back. She probably thinks that it is a safe haven because there is always a crew of humans anxiously waiting for the ducklings to hatch. When they do hatch we dutifully ring Animal Welfare (dierenambulance). They come and catch mother and the babies and then take them all to a park. So Mother Duck seems to think that she is well looked after because she keeps coming back.

The only problem is that Father Duck never knows where the family is taken to (apparently ducks mate for life). After all, they go by ambulance and he has to fly. So after the family has left he returns each morning and evening and honks mournfully for them. But somehow he manages to successfully hook up with her by the time the next Spring rolls around.

Last year's crop of ducklings

Last year's crop of ducklings

Categories: General


janet gras · April 7, 2011 at 21:05

What a pro DUCK tion!
Amazing papa duck to relocate the mob every year.

Ben · April 7, 2011 at 22:29

Oh man. That is one heartwarming/-breaking story. And great pic! I’ll forward this to our resident biologist, who, as it happens, is an expert on ducks too, and see what he has to say ;-)

jennie · April 7, 2011 at 22:44

@Ben Oh yes, definitely interested in what an expert has to say. A rough internet search seems to be divided as to whether ducks really do mate for life or not. Maybe it’s a different mournful dad each year?
@Janet Good pun! :-)

jennie · April 8, 2011 at 15:14

This is what Ben’s resident biologist had to say about our duck: “Female ducks are philopatric, which means that they tend to return to last year’s nesting site (usually close to their birthplace) if the nest was successful. In the wild, ducks don’t mate for life and father duck doesn’t generally wait around for the ducklings to hatch. Instead he goes off after a few days to find another willing female, and if there is none, to get a new set of feathers. In urban areas, it seems that even the male ducks are a bit metrosexual though. Mating for life is much more common in urban duck populations, and they stay around the nest much longer to make sure all is well… And in case you’re wondering, the two lovebirds will find each other again at their wintering site, which is most likely the park in this case. :)”

Ben · April 12, 2011 at 12:06

I find the way Levien put this rather funny – ‘another willing female or a new set of feathers’..! poor female ducks are first choice, only narrowly beating going clothes shopping..!

jennie · April 12, 2011 at 12:17

On the other hand, at least mating comes *before* clothes shopping. They could have been metrosexual enough to think that clothes are more important!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *