Hi, We have a Mallard sitting eggs in our garden. It's late October and I wonder how unusual this is? We're in Northwest England and the winter will surely mean the ducklings won't survive? The mother had a clutch of 13 earlier this year. One duckling was yellow and was taken by a magpie, the others got to the local pond ok but disappeared overnight so I guess they didn't survive due to predators. My partner was very distressed by this and I want to know what is the right thing to do for the mother and ducklings if they hatch. I don't see a way for them to survive the winter and am also worried for the mother. My partner is talking about looking after the ducklings but she doesn't appreciate the potential problems with this.
I'm concerned for the ducks but I guess nature will take its course. Do you have any advice? Is there is anything we can do to help them? I'm also looking to protect my partner from any distress if possible.
Hello Stevie, I fully understand your concern for the Mallard especially nesting outside of the usual season (March - July) and all I can suggest is that you perhaps contact the British Trust for Ornithology for their advice, details of which can be found HERE. If she has only just started laying eggs (I think one is laid per day) they would take around 28 days to hatch once the female begins to sit on them which is after they have almost all been laid; fledging would be around two months after hatching. It would seem unlikely they would either hatch due to the lateness of the season or progress to fledging but with climate change who knows ! We often say let nature take its course but it is also hard to do that when you care so deeply for birds and want to do the right thing, hence I suggest you get expert advice from the BTO using one of the contact methods I have given you links for. It is reassuring to know there are many caring folk like yourself and your partner that will seek out advice to help birds so thank you and hope the BTO can offer their advice.
Note: If the chicks had hatched then you would normally have to gather them together in a box and try (difficult as it can sometimes be and not always possible) to catch the female before phoning RSPCA to collect them. I would certainly not advise taking on the care of ducklings (if they did hatch), however well intended your intentions are as they need expert and full time care.
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