Yesterday when I was hiking by a lake, I spotted an interesting duck I’d never seen before hanging out with the mallards by the shore. It was mostly black, with a white underbelly & neck. I’m thinking it was some kind coot(click on the link for a picture: imgres ), or possibly a merganser(imgres ).

All of the ducklings have become mature ducks by now; when you look at a group of them, you could never tell the difference. What’s interesting is that now that the breeding seasons over, the ducks groups are basically all female, & the males are mostly off by themselves, until next season, when they’ll group together again & find their old mates from last season.

Waterfowl on the Mississippi

'webbed feet allow ducklings & goslings to swim almost immediately after hatching'

Mallard ducks are becoming more & more common as it gets closer to summer. A few of them stay all winter – there’s almost always a bit of open water on the Mississippi – but for the most part they leave in fall & come back in early spring. The Canada Geese will stay through the winter, living in the patches of water the currents keep from freezing up, but the mallards are wimpy & head to places with easier food & living spots available.  Soon there will be tiny, fluffy goslings & ducklings hatching. You can see them prancing around on the side of the road behind their parents, learning to swim & fly. They can swim almost from the moment they hatch, but it takes about 2 months for them to learn to fly.Click on the link to see a sweet video of a hen & her ducklings: Ducks lay eggs until late June, so there are ducklings around most of the summer. It takes a duck egg 4 weeks to hatch, which is actually a pretty long time – most bird eggs hatch in 21 days.