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.

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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.
[Two images, each containing one egg with part of the shell missing, combined into one picture. The egg on the left has a smaller opening and a small piece of shell sits on what appears to be squishy thick liquid inside. The egg on the right has a larger opening and there are segmented sections of yellow stuck to the back of the eggshell.]

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.
[A mother muscovy duck with white feathers on her head, neck, and wings has her bill tucked into the dark feathers on her back. On and between her legs are the back ends of at least three ducklings. The duckling on the far right is nearly completely brown while the one in the middle and on the left have light-colored down at the edges of their brown backsides. Mom is standing on dirt.]

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.
[Seven ducklings are swimming from left to right in very blue water. One duckling has a mostly yellow face with a thin brown stripe across it. All the other ducklings have mostly brown heads. The duckling with the stripe is the one with yellow dots on its back.]

Three of the ducklings from the prior photo showing the color variation on their hind ends.
[All ducklings are on grass walking away from the camera. The middle duckling in the lead is the one with the stripe on its face. It is also the one with the most white down on its backside. The duckling on the right has only a few white downy feathers. The one on the left has a bigger patch of white, but not as big as the middle duckling.]

These ducklings are not quite three weeks old.
[Two ducklings with their left side facing the camera walk from right to left. These ducklings have brown heads, yellow necks and a tiny yellow-white wing on their brown bodies. The one in the back has its mouth open as if it is calling to another duckling. A third duckling is bent to the ground and faced the camera so its pink bill and two brown legs touch the ground. It also has a mostly brown head with a yellow neck and a tiny light-colored wing. The body of the mother, which is mostly black, is behind the ducklings.]

This duckling is a five days older than the ones in the prior photo; its tail feathers have begun growing.
[One duckling swims from right to left in dark-colored water. This duckling has a brown head, yellow neck, tiny yellow wing, brown body, and brown and white wisps of tail feathers sticking in the air.]

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.
[The ducklings are in the grass squished so close together they are practically sitting on top of each other. It's one large blob of brown with spatterings of yellow necks and light-colored bills, as well as brown eyes.]

This duckling is approximately one month old. Its pose beside its mother gives an idea of how its coloring will change as it matures.
[Mother stands in the grass facing left behind the duckling in the same pose, thus we see the left side only of both of them. The duckling with a completely brown head, yellow neck and front, and brown back is just over half as tall as the mother. The mother has a completely white head, neck, and front with a red section around her brown eye and light tan beak. Her back and sides are black.]

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.
[Six young ducks stand behind their mother on a hillside with a block wall in the background. The ducklings are shades of brown and white except for their pink-orange feet. Mom has some teal colored feathers on her back along with the dark brown-black ones.]

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.
[The duck is on the water at a diagonal with its head in the upper right and its tail in the lower left. The duckling has a little white on its cheeks, on all of its fron, and on most of its neck. There is a brown stripe running down the back of its neck. The feathers on its tail are dark brown while the ones on the upper back are brown and teal. It does have some white feathers in a few places on its back.]

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.
[Four ducklings are swimming from left to right. The entire bodies of the front two ducks are visible and have tail feathers which are several inches long. The duck in the upper part of the image has a back which is a mottled black and white. It's head and back of neck are shades of grey while its front is white. The duck in the lower part of the image is nearly all dark brown with only a small patch of white on its upper neck and a few white feathers on the top of its head. Only parts of the heads of the two ducks in the rear are in the image.]

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.
[One duck swims from right to left at a slight angle away from the camera. It's head has a small patch of red at the edge of its beak. Its head has a white patch from the beak to the eye and then a few white feathers scattered at the crest of its head. The rest of the bird visible above the waterline is mostly dark brown with a few scattered teal feathers on its back.]

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.
[One duck at the edge of the hillside has just removed its bill from the water, thus there is a stream of water in between the bill and the water. It has a lump of red atop its bill, along the edge, and leading to its eye. This duck has a black stripe from its bill up and across the top of its head and down its back. It also appears to have a black strap around its neck. The rest of the head is white; the front of its body is also white. The back is a series of brown and teal feathers leading to long black feathers on its tail. Its bill is light pink white its feet appear to be light orange.]

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.
[A close view of the neck and head of a duck facing the left. This duck is most dark (including the half of its beak closest to its head) with only a few white feathers sprinkled around its eye and on its neck. The patch of red around the top of its eye does not yet touch the lumps of red on its beak as it will when it matures.]

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