This family of 9 ducklings came through the pond behind the extended-stay hotel at least once every couple of days in spring 2014. Most days it was the 11 of them in a group. A couple of times I only saw 10 and at first thought they lost a duckling. Then I saw Mom go back for the last duckling who had gotten big enough it was having trouble getting under the fence to get to the pond area. (Mom and Dad flew over the fence.) I kept watching the duckling try different parts of the fence to no avail and squacking the whole time. Mom must have told it to 'suck it in' because it finally made it through and the two of them rejoined the rest of the family.

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Unlike the geese who always keep the young between the parents, the mallards give the kids a looser rein.
[An evening photo on the pond with mostly mallard silhouettes as the nine ducklings swim ahead of the parents.]

This is only 8 of the 9, but I like the synchronized head turns.
[Eight ducklings swim on the water. The outermost ones on the top and bottom are looking to their left. Three of the inner ones are looking to the right while the one remaining duckling looks the forward direction it is swimming.]

The duckling swims right over the turtle.
[A duckling has just swum over the lower half of a completely submerged turtle.]

They're on the march for more food.
[Mom and the 9 ducklings walk through the tall grass with 9 of the ten bills pointed the same direction to the left. The ducklings are about half the size of the mother.]

One afternoon I saw the mother (on the right) with one duckling. They flitted back and forth across the pond then all of a sudden Mom made a squacking call. The duckling repeated her call louder and longer.
[A mother mallard created a circular wake around a duckling in the pond.]

I then heard a responding set of quacks and under the wooden fence appeared 8 ducklings who scampered down the hillside to the water and began swimming to the other end, squacking the entire time, "We're here, Mom, we're here!". They are about six weeks old at this point.
[A group of 8 ducklings swim to the right. The one in the very front and one in the rear have their bills wide open as they call out. They are moving fast enough they're creating a wake.]

The errant ducklings rejoined Mom and sibling and all ten swam to the main area with Mom in the lead.
[All ten swim to the left creating a large vee wake behind them.]

This is the aftermath of ducklings running on water. Funniest thing I've ever seen. They were flapping what little wings they had which helped them move, but not enough to clear the water completely so their feet paddled while their bellies stayed airborn. They did move faster than when swimming.
[Two huge vee wakes create a W in the water as two ducklings had been racing toward (or away from) something and stayed about five feet apart from each other.]

Mom and the kids on the march for food because the ducklings have not even begun growing flight feathers despite how big they look.
[Mom (in the lead) and the nine ducklings walk across a mulched area under a tree as they pass through the grass.]

Mom is on the far right and still the only one who can fly.
[Mom and the nine ducklings swim through the pond.]

By the end of June the ducklings are gone and Mom and Dad wander the pond area together. This is Dad in his eclipse plumage.
[The mallard looks like a female except for the yellow bill.]

Continue to page 3 for the disappearing ducklings story.

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