RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — It is early morning when this Muscovy duck emerges from the hollow where she has spent the night sheltering her brood.
Dropping to the ground, she begins to pace around the base of the tree quacking softly to encourage her ducklings to emerge.
She has been incubating for almost a month, and the eggs started hatching 24 hours ago, so it is time to coax the youngsters out of the cavity.
But wait, what is this? The first duck to emerge is another mature female. Yes, this venerable hollow is the shared nest site for two Muscovy moms.
So now, both mother ducks parade around the tree quacking a duet to entice their little ducklings out into the world.
It doesn’t take long for the first intrepid cheeper to take the plunge. Hitting the ground unscathed, junior joins his tail-wagging mom, or make that one of his moms.
Soon, there are several ducklings scampering about joining up with their siblings. Not all the exits are flawless, and this little rascal hits the edge of the tree, pauses to ponder his predicament, and then just goes for it, hitting the ground with a thud, shaking it off and joining his peers.
Once the brood is gathered together, the two moms conduct a head count and after a brief consultation decides it is time to head for the resaca.
This involves the careful crossing of the street with 16 newly hatched ducklings marching diligently after their moms. Then it is thru that hole in the fence and on to the resaca.
Once at the waters edge, the family rests for a few minutes before first the parents, and then little ones dive in.
Finally, they are all in the water, even the very last reluctant one. And they take to the water, like well ducks… escorted by their two attentive moms.