Town Crier Articles

New Town, Make Way for Ducklings!
Posted on May 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Town Crier Staff
Categories: Life in New Town
 As reported by Charlotte Park Residents Doug Zoller and Dallas Henna:
Doug:  On Sunday, April 5th, I noticed a flock of 14 baby Mallards in the Olive Drive bioretention pond. I went down to the pond with my wife, Dolores, and we observed the mother and babies circling the entire side of the pond. 
[Nesting facts from Cornell University Lab of Ornithology:  Female makes a shallow depression in soft earth up and away from pond water.  Once mating occurs, the drake leaves the vicinity of the nest and the female is left with the baby ducklings.  She incubates the eggs laid in the nest which is lined with grasses, leaves or woven plant stems piled to hide her while she sits 23-30 days on the eggs.  The number of ducklings listed were between 1 and 13.
Newly hatched baby ducklings are ready to leave the nest within 13-16 hours.  The mother takes the gang to the water.  The babies feed on plankton (tiny aquatic animal and plant life).  Mother ducks do not feed the babies.]
The next day, I went down to the pond.  Beforehand, I told Dallas Henna why I was going. A few minutes later Dallas came down to the pond to tell me that the mother and 14 ducklings were in his garden.  On arrival, several neighbors were taking pictures of the gang.  
Dallas: I was working in the front yard and Doug came by and said he was on his way to the retention pond along Olive to observe a mother mallard and her 14 ducklings.  Doug continued on his nature journey and I continued with my yard work.  Then I caught a glimpse of the mother duck and her ducklings behind our front bushes (see photo).  
I called my wife Daisy outside to see and take some pictures while, at the same time, I left to catch up to Doug.  
When we returned, mother duck and her little ones had headed east towards the retention pond along Rollison Drive. Along the way down Elizabeth Davis Boulevard, neighbors came out and took pictures while mother duck and ducklings waddled their way to their destination.  
Doug: Mother duck knew there was another retention pond west of Rollison Drive.  She must have felt they were too exposed and felt the young would fare better on the Rollison pond.  As the female circled the Olive Drive pond, she may have had an encounter with a large snapping turtle that I have observed in the pond.
Unfortunately, keeping 14 ducklings together weaving through gardens, spectators and curbing, she had only 8 babies left as I watched her disappear into the Rollison pond.  Neighbors told me they observed them on the pond. Note: This pair of Mallards had one more duckling than Cornell Lab cited (1-13) ducklings!
Dallas:  We did walk by the Rollison pond and saw them in the water. We counted 12 to 13 ducklings so hopefully the whole family made the journey. We wanted to make sure that they made it to their destination and, perhaps, final stop while they grow into adult mallards.
Comment By: Jean Brown
Posted on May 1, 2020 11:48 AM
What a lovely story, thanks.
Comment By: Blanche Scharf
Posted on May 2, 2020 12:46 PM
In this difficult time, it's a blessing that we witness the beauty of nature. Thanks for your observations, Doug and Dallas.