Surprise discovery under the pampas bush

This morning I was weeding the flower beds around the pampas grass bush in the front yard when a mallard hen burst out of the bush giving me a fright. She landed in the nearby cow field and watched anxiously as I looked underDSCN7308 the bush and discovered a nest full of eggs, 11 to be precise.  H. said we should take 5 of them to incubate, and leave the hen the other 6, in case she came back to the nest.

The mallard hen was probably the same one we had seen with her partner occasionally at our pond every springtime. We suspect this mallard couple are the culprits who have been snacking on the 20 new water hyacinths we bought last week, destroying the whole lot in just a few days. An expensive salad buffet!

I wasn’t really sure we should take any of the eggs – I feel guilty about it  – or if trying to incubate them was going to work at all.  Anyway, the eggs are now in the living room in a styrofoam box, wrapped around with a heating blanket.

We left the yard and watched from indoors but the mother duck has not yet returned to her eggs, she is still in the field waiting, afraid to come back.  I must say she hasn’t chosen the best of locations for her nest. The pampas bush is right next to the fence, adjacent to our neighbour’s yard. They park their cars just a couple of feet away on the other side. They also have young children and rowdy pet dogs! I suppose she must have built the nest, and started laying her eggs when the neighbours were on vacation a few weeks ago.

According to several articles I found on the internet, the correct incubation temperature for duck eggs is 37.5 deg C with a humidity of around 55%, and the incubation period is 28 days. I have no idea how long the duck has already been sitting on them however!

It’s hard to regulate the blanket to the correct temperature and humidity, so I just ordered a automatic incubator from Amazon for about 60 Euro. Hope it comes soon!

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