Friday, May 15, 2020

A Blessing at Our Door Step

Living through the everyday turmoil, apprehension, and strife that the corona virus has inflicted upon us these days has not been easy, to say the least.  However, one of the many blessings I count every day is this glorious Spring God has given us -- perfect temperatures, brilliant blue skies, green everywhere you look, and profusions of flowers brightening our days.  

We have received another one of Spring's greatest blessings ... new life ... in the form of a sweet little mallard hen who chose, literally, our front door step as the place to build her nest and to bring her babies into the world.  You would think that would be last place she would want to be ... with people coming and going and me watering plants, and the garage door going up and down at all hours of the day.  But there she sits for hours, still as can be, totally camouflaged and safe and warm nestled under the dense foliage of the boxwoods and pine straw.  

We're not sure how long she has been there, but it's been at least a couple of weeks.  My husband was loading some things in the back of his truck one morning, and a Mallard drake and the hen flew across the driveway close to the truck.  The drake kept going, but when my husband went around to the back of the truck, the little hen was just sitting there on the driveway.  A few minutes later, we discovered the nest hidden behind the boxwoods in a flower bed beside the front steps, as shown in the pictures below:

Even though she chose one of the busiest areas in front of our house, she is actually quite safe there. If my husband hadn't seen the ducks flying that morning, we probably would have never seen the nest. 

Yesterday afternoon I decided to try to capture some pictures of the little hen.  She is so well camouflaged that I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I did manage to get a few good ones, I think.

I took this picture from the door steps looking down on the nest, and it shows how well camouflaged she is ... if you didn't know she was there, you'd never see her!

All of these pictures were taken from the steps using a long lens ...

Notice how she covered her bill with her wing.  It's like she's trying to hide
herself even more, which is truly mind boggling when you think about it!

I was amazed to see the distinctive camouflaging on her bill.  Cabela's will never even come close to duplicating that!

Isn't she beautiful!

There are six eggs in the nest, which she leaves only for short breaks to feed.  We never see her coming and going.  I took advantage of one of her rambling times and captured a picture of the eggs.  Notice the tufts of down sheltering them and keeping them warm while she's away ...  


I googled "gestation time for mallard ducks" and found that it usually takes about 28 days after beginning of incubation for the eggs to hatch.  I also discovered that "it takes about 24 hours for them to hatch, and the ducklings stay in the nest for at least 10 hours while they dry and get used to using their legs.  Then, usually in the early morning hours, the hen leads them to water.  Bad weather may delay their journey, but the sooner the ducklings get to water to feed, the better their chances of survival. If the nest isn't close to water, this first journey can be a long and potentially the most perilous time in a duckling's life."  

There is a small pond down the street from us which serves as a pooling area for water drainage after rainfalls.  

Even though we haven't had much rain lately, I walked down to the pond and found a couple of areas that had water in them, and they looked like the perfect habitat for little ducklings.

There is plenty of vegetation around for the mama duck to hide her babies from predators, and it appears to be a perfect food source for them, too ...

I think this will be where the hen will take her babies and, thankfully, it isn't too far from the nest. The only hazards between it and our house would be children playing, and there won't be any children playing in the early morning hours, so their journey should be a safe one.  Can't you just imagine the mama duck leading her babies, all in a row, down our driveway to the sidewalk and proudly marching them down the street to their new home!  I'm an early riser and hope to be close by to capture that awe-inspiring moment with my camera. 

And speaking of awesome moments, I was pleased to read that although the nest is abandoned, if it is close to the feeding area, the family may continue to use it for brooding and roosting.  Wouldn't that be something!

Thank you, Lord, for this little mama duck ... and for the countless blessings of Spring and "How Great Thou Art" moments we experience every day ... even in these most difficult of times.  

If you would like to read Part Two of this story (which is the best part!), please click on the following link:


1 comment:

Beth said...

How sweet! I had a pair of red-tail hawks nest in the top of one of my mature oak trees. Unfortunately, a severe storm knocked their nest to the ground. I saw two fledglings in my yard and watched them until they moved on up the street. They had full wings and were probably close to leaving the nest. I've wished them well as I've enjoyed viewing the large adult birds coming and going.