This is Tess, the mallard, and her six surviving ducklings who were featured in my blogpost dated May 3rd.
The very next morning, she was down six babies. Sad, but it's how nature works...perhaps that why they hatch out so many to start. Shortly after, I noticed that Tess was limping, but still faithfully making the journey from the glade to my front yard to feed her babies. Then, the visits stopped...
I walked down to the glade to investigate and she was there with the remaining ducklings. For about a week, I brought corn to the glade for them to eat. Then, just before I left for vacation, they returned and Tess's leg seemed no worse for wear. My friend, Sharon, reported that she brought them daily while I was gone. My neighbor, Lou, also reported that they were also visiting her new pond and wreaking havoc on her young water plants. I gathered that we did not share the same fondness for Tess and babies!
The ducklings still have much of their fuzzy down but they are starting to get their wing feathers. They are still targets for predators and I will feel much relieved when they can at least fly away from danger. But, Tess has been a good mother to her remaining young and hopefully will keep them safe a bit longer.
As you can see, they all look like they are females...but all mallards do at this age. When they are a bit older, it will be easier to distinguish males from females. By then, they will probably have long departed from my yard -- for this year! Undoubtedly, those that survive the winter (and hunting season) will be back next spring and I will have a bumper crop of ducks who sing for their supper. Better stock up on corn now!