April 25, 2023 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I saw a family of mallard ducks a few days ago, with a dozen little ducklings, a mom duck watching them—and two adult male ducks. That left me wondering what was going on there. As far as I know, mallards are generally monogamous, so the mom wouldn’t have had two mates. But I watched them for a while, and they behaved like they were all part of the same family, with the mother duck looking after the little ones and the males guarding the perimeter.

Photo of mallard ducklings with three adult ducks.

The number of ducklings was more than usual, so I wondered if perhaps they didn’t all have the same mother. Maybe half the ducklings belonged to a single father whose mate had died, so he was staying close to a mated pair to improve his offspring’s survival chances?

Or maybe one of the adult males was an older sibling of the ducklings, and he hadn’t wanted to grow up and leave home in the previous year. We certainly see a lot of that with humans these days! Anyway, I’ll never know, but it was fun to imagine a bit of duck family drama.

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