I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard of big families and moms who go the extra mile, but this mother duck is really blowing everyone’s minds.
We have to make way for ducklings – all 76 of them in this case!
It’s clear that there’s no way one duck could lay this many eggs, so she’s most likely duck-sitting for the afternoon, but she really does have her hands (or webbed feet, said more accurately) full!
Seeing 4 or 5 (or even up to 10) ducklings following their mom around in springtime is pretty normal, but a particular nature-lover caught sight of this scene and the video is going viral for some exact reasons.
Particular duck species designate what’s called a “crèche” mother to tend to baby ducklings. That’s likely what wildlife photographer Brent Cizek stumbled across while visiting Minnesota’s Lake Bemidji last year.
Cizek has described the common merganser duck species matron “Mama Merganser.”
In an interview with Jillian Mock of the Audubon Society, the man said that he wasn’t expecting to see anything particularly exciting that day and didn’t even bring his best camera equipment with him. Also, he was out on a small boat when he filmed the footage and bad weather was headed his way, so the water was already pretty choppy to start with.
But Cizek still managed to catch the ducks at play, as they popped up one by one in a way that looked like they were almost saying hello to the camera.
The manalso caught about half of the ducklings going out for a practice swim across the lake, first gathering themselves calmly while “mama” duck waited on shore for the “kids”.
All of them then went sprinting at once into a straight line, their little webbed feat nearly walking across the water.
On the mean time, the rest played back on land, dipping their toes in the lake occasionally, but staying close to their guardian all the time.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, female common mergansers only lay about 12 eggs at a time. That’s why it’s safe to say that only a small percentage of the ducklings belonged to the duck in charge.
A man named Bob Duchesne, who writes a birding column for the Bangor Daily News, suggested that this crèche, which is basically a type of ducky daycare system “is unusual but not rare. It is most typical among birds that breed colonially and whose eggs hatch at roughly the same time.”
The activity of “Crèching” increases a baby duck’s chances of survival by letting it blend in with a big crowd – after all, there’s strength in numbers.
It’s mre than likely that other mama ducks were out foraging for food during this particular playdate.
David Rave is an area wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources who has suggested that “Mama Merganser” probably has previous experience with ducklings and that’s why the colony chose her for this daunting duty.
Even though wildlife experts report seeing crèches of up to 50 ducklings, a lot of them were surprised that one duck could care for over 70 babies at once.
The mama duck in charge managed both the group playing in the water as well as those on shore too.
Despite the explanation behind it, it’s an great feat of nature to see this kind of cooperation and organization in such a large group of animals. It’s a good practice for learning to fly in formation later on, after all.
And it definitely brightened our day to see all those baby ducks lined up in a row behind one super responsible “mama” duck.
Everyone make sure you scroll down below to watch the video of this adorable group in action.