Number of mallard eggs

A mallard has a nest in a box on the pontoon next to my canal boat in Roydon, Essex, and she seems to have been sitting on eggs since the 3rd April.

She got off briefly today and I counted 22 eggs!

There has been another female mallard that she 'allows' just in front of the nest box. I guess this to be a female from the sitting female's brood from last year.

For this many eggs I imagine both females have layed a clutch in the same nest.

Would this guess be right? I have never heard of this happening before.

Thanks.

Andy.

  • seems really strange Andy looking in my book they have 7-11 eggs which she incubates herself,before leaving the nest she covers the eggs with a layer of down.. as soon as they hatch the young ducklings follow their mother. So reading that wouldn't it be funny if when she covered them this other female came along not seeing them and layed some more, l'm no expert but hope there someone out there can help you more yas

  • In reply to Simon:

    Yes Andy, nor all clutch as Yas says is around 12, so looks like another visitor has been in there too.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Simon:

    Yes Andy, normal clutch as Yas says is around 12, so looks like another visitor has been in there too.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • In reply to Catlady:

    Andy I have observed similar behaviours with coots, in addition to auntying. Two females laying eggs together then jointly looking after the young. Never heard that mallards did the same though.

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

  • In reply to Marina P:

    Thanks all. It seems that a couple of females can share a nest, but how many look after the young when they hatch is yet to be determined!

  • In reply to Andy Hawksworth:

    If eider ducks are anything to go by, they kind of form a nursery, 4-5 mothers and countless chicks following.

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

  • In reply to Marina P:

    Yes, them and of course Canada geese. But mallards are usually just the one mum.

  • In reply to Andy Hawksworth:

    Interesting, thanks Andy. I have never seen Canada geese forming a 'nursery' usually I see pairs staying with their goslings. Same as with shelducks.

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

  • In reply to Marina P:

    Will be interesting to see what happens when they all hatch out yas

  • In reply to Simon:

    What's happened now is that 3 eggs hatched out, two yesterday one this morning.

    The female allowed the other female by the nest as before and then she was bothered by 2 male mallard and now she's gone.

    The mother hasn't been back to the nest now for over two hours, the two older chicks have gone and the youngest still in the nest almost lifeless.

    One of the 2 older chicks was dashing around the lake calling for an hour or so and then silence.

    Only three females are around and none of them have young with them.

    I think that's it.

    Thanks for your help.