I’m pretty sure that both of my mallard hens are incubating a full clutch of eggs now. I can peek at Honey’s nest when she comes down to the pond once every day or two for a drink and a feed, but Dorothy’s nest is on a ledge in front of a window that cannot be accessed. It’s important to be able to look at the nests, for we’re never sure when hatching takes place unless we can see the ducklings and thus be prepared to take care of them and their mom. (They jump off the ledge to the pond within 24 hours after hatching.)
Today when Honey was on the pond (in fact, when I was writing the previous post), I ran to the next building, went up to the third floor, and, pulled back the cardboard on the window that gives Honey privacy. You see a photograph of her nest below. It’s hard to take a good photo through a screen with a point-and-shoot autofocus camera, but you can see her rough saucer of twigs that she’s lined with down from her breast. (I find it ineffably touching that mallards pull out their own feathers to help cushion and insulate the nest.) Only one pastel-green egg was visible, but since there were three eggs over a week ago the rest must be buried in the down. Clutch size is usually 8-12 eggs.
I’ve circled the one visible egg: a future duckling. Look at all that down!