It’s always inspiring to see mothers caring for their young in nature. One of the most common examples is the sight of a mother duck leading her young in a straight line.
Whether crossing the road or gliding across the pond, it’s always amazing how the ducklings instinctively follow their mother.
But one photographer captured a really stunning moment, after spotting a mother duck caring for more ducklings than anyone could’ve imagined.
Brent Cizek is an amateur wildlife photographer from Northern Minnesota. In 2018, he took a trip to Lake Bemidji, near Duluth, and spotted a Common Merganser.
But what was extraordinary about this duck was that she was caring for over 76 ducklings!
Brent couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“It was mind blowing,” the photographer told the New York Times. “I didn’t know that a duck could care for that many chicks.”
“It kind of compels you just to look and wonder: How? How did this happen? How is this mom taking care of all of these ducklings? She just looks really proud and stoic in the photo.”
MAMA MERGANSER! I was able to track down the now famous Lake Bemidji Common Merganser that has an adopted brood of over 76 babies! I love the story that these photos tell.
— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 17, 2018
No, they’re not all her own biological children—Common Mergansers typically lay 8-11 eggs. However, they are also known to lay them in other females’ nests.
According to the Times, this is done to spread out the offspring and enhance chances of survival. But it isn’t likely that this mama duck actually incubated all of the eggs, leading to the conclusion that this is actually the pond’s matriarchal female, caring for all the ducklings while the adults molt their feathers.
“She’d be kind of like the great-grandmother,” David Rave, area wildlife manager who oversees the Bemidji region for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told the New York Times.
It’s still incredible to see this duck have such a caring control over so many children—even though there are dozens of them, they still all know to follow her command.
“Everybody is really just amazed,” Brent Cizek said. “Everybody keeps saying, ‘Mom of the Year.’”
We agree, this is one amazing mom! Thank you to this photographer for capturing such an incredible sight!
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