While designed mainly for woodland birds, we regularly get a number of other species visiting our bird feeders. We have a female mallard who visits on a regular basis, but its rare for her to bring her ducklings to the feeders as they tend to prefer insects. So we took the opportunity to take some video footage.
Not only were these ducklings one of the first bro0ds to be spotted this year, but it was also one of the largest we’ve seen for mallards, numbering 15. As with all ducklings, mortality rate can be high, and by the time this video footage was taken the number was down to 9.
Mallards ‘parenting’ behaviour is very different to Eider ducks, with the families generally remaining separate from each others and usually only the mother of the ducklings taking care of them (though the male may protect the young as well, usually from other drakes). This is probably due to the difference in habitats, with Mallards tending to stay in areas of high vegetation, while Eiders prefer to remain on open water, making them more vulnerable to aerial predation.
Georgina Bowie (Visitor Centre Assistant)