Monday, July 6, 2015

Who Ate the Eggs?

A few weeks ago, my friends Carolyn and Dave found this mallard duck hanging out on the sailboat they moor in City Island in the Bronx:

They thought she was just resting, or possibly attempting to hitch a ride somewhere. But the next time they went out to the boat they found these:

It's not such an easy thing to take your boat out for a sail when there are mallard eggs rolling all over the deck. It's certainly dangerous for the eggs, and also, extremely stressful for their mother-to-be. So, Carolyn and Dave contacted a woman known as the Duck Whisperer, who works at a place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called the Wild Bird Fund, which rescues all kinds of birds around the city, including pigeons and swans with broken feet and migrating songbirds that crash into buildings. The Duck Whisperer recommended that they build these eggs a nest:

Which Dave did, using a pillowcase, rope, the seat from a broken chair he found on the street. He gently put the eggs into the nest hoping that, eventually, he'd be able to move the whole thing off the boat, so the mother mallard could hatch them in peace (although, she looks pretty peaceful in these photos):

Last week came news from Carolyn that the nest was down to only three eggs. And today I learned that as of this weekend, all five eggs had disappeared. What could have happened to them? 

Most likely, they were eaten. And most likely, they were eaten by seagulls—although other common city pests, such as crows, rats, and raccoons also eat duck eggs. An alternative theory, since there was no evidence of broken shells on the deck, is that the eggs were doomed to never hatch and the mother mallard pushed them into the water. 

Regardless, it's certainly a sad day for duck rescue. But we're crossing fingers that the mother mallard has much, much better luck next year.

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