I discovered several mother muscovy ducks raising their young in the stormwater drainage canals near a post office in Jacksonville, Florida. Unlike mallards, muscovy ducks have parential lineages which result in each mature duck (for the most part) having unique coloration. Most of these ducklings are from one family which is how I know their age.- - - - - - - - - - - - -
A predator got to these eggs during the incubation stage. It appears cell division and growing had been in progress in on the egg on the right.
Newborn ducks need Mom's help to stay warm for at least the first few days out of the egg. They usually huddle under her.
These ducklings are approximately two weeks old. Only one duckling has yellow spots on its back. All the ducklings appear to have a little white-yellow wing on the side.
Three of the ducklings from the prior photo showing the color variation on their hind ends.
These ducklings are not quite three weeks old.
This duckling is a five days older than the ones in the prior photo; its tail feathers have begun growing.
The ducklings are just over three weeks old. They've been taught to stick together for safety from a warmth standpoint as well as to hide in the grass so predators are less likely to spot them.
This duckling is approximately one month old. Its pose beside its mother gives an idea of how its coloring will change as it matures.
The ducklings are approximately six weeks old. Although their feet are about the size of their mother's, they still have yet to grow any wing feathers. The duckling in the back is the one which had the yellow head with the brown stripe running through its eye and the yellow dots on its back.
This is the duckling on the far left in the prior photo. Although it has feathers on its tail and some on its upper back, it has not yet begun growing flight feathers.
These ducklings from another family have longer tail feathers, so they are older than the one in the prior photo, but they also have yet to grow flight feathers.
This juvenile has flight feathers which create a fullness on its back that the younger ducklings do not have. However, it has yet to fully grow the red portion around its eyes and beaks that adult muscovy ducks display. I would estimate this duck to be at least three months old.
Another juvenile will full flight feathers. The flight feathers are an irridescent teal color which appears black in most light conditions. Based on the amount of red on its face, I believe this is a developing male juvenile.
The "comb" at the top of its head indicates this is another developing male juvenile. These ducks reach sexual maturity at approximately seven months old and will have large knobs of red atop their bills.
All photos © S. M. Garver