Aside from the colorful blooms that pop their heads up from the ground after a long winter's hibernation, and the green leaves that wave at us from the trees, the return of the mallards is our favorite sign of spring's return. We've only lived in northeast Ohio for three years but these ducks have come into our back yard ever since. I guess I buy tasty bird food (black oil sunflower seeds, for anyone who's interested). For the past couple of years we've had just one couple. We think they've spread the word about our good eats because now we have this menage a trois. They--along with the other couple--come every day once in the morning and again in the evening. I had to call the Lake Erie Science Center last week because the male from the first couple has something wrong with his leg. He limps around and "wing walks" across my yard. The "duck expert" with whom I spoke at the center said she'll help fix his leg if I can just get him in there. It can be done, (or so she says...) so I'm going to give it a try. After speaking with her I came away with some knowledge I'll share with any duck lovers out there.
Mallards, unlike Canadian geese, do not necessarily mate for life. If the same ducks gather back at the same breeding grounds, they most likely hook up with the same partner they've mated with in the past, but it's not a given.
The female mallard lays an egg a day until she has her "clutch" of 8 to 12 eggs. Then she sits on the nest around the clock, maybe leaving to eat for a short period of time, but returning to the nest quickly.
Mallards do return to their usual nesting grounds, so it's likely some of these ducks are the same ones who've been coming to our yard these past three years.
Once he's "done his job", the male is not really needed by the female. She sits on the nest and then takes care of the babies once they're born.
Who knew female mallards were some of nature's single moms?