Ever seen a duck with 56 ducklings? I know I haven’t – until now! What an unusual sight. And that is exactly what Brent Cizek thought when he spotted this mama duck and her huge family on a lake. But, how on earth did this duck end up with so many babies? And the craziest part? Since first seeing the duck with 56 ducklings, Brent spotted her again, this time with another two dozen baby ducks in tow. In other words, since his first encounter with this mother duck, she’s raised 76 ducklings!
A boat ride
Brent Cizek also happens to be a wildlife photographer. And, after buying himself a small boat in the wintertime a few years ago, he thought he would go out on the water and capture some shots of wildlife on a northern Minnesota lake. Brent hoped to snap some shots of a mallard he’d seen before. He certainly was not expecting to see anything out of the ordinary or spectacular at all. It was a windy, choppy afternoon on Lake Bemidji.
“Well, it wasn’t the greatest idea as it was quite windy that day and the waves were tossing my boat around in any direction that it wanted to. I decided to carry on, knowing that it wasn’t likely that I would see anything, much less be able to take a photograph with the choppy water.”Brent Cizek
Armed with only one lens for his camera, Brent managed to steer around the Lakes shoreline. It was at this moment he spotted the mother duck. She was a common merganser. What he did not expect was what seemed to be a never-ending row of ducklings to follow behind her! Here, right in front of him, was a duck with 56 ducklings!
A duck with 56 ducklings
Brent could not believe what he was seeing, and who on earth would? It’s not every day you see a single duck with 56 ducklings in tow. The ecstatic Brent managed to capture some beautiful pictures of the proud mother duck and her huge family on the lake. Cizek says that as if things were already not complicated enough on the rough water, he had to alternate between maneuvering his little trolling motor and quickly snapping pictures of the duck with 56 ducklings.
“I was on the water for about 15 minutes before I first saw the large group and was completely shocked. I had never seen any kind of bird with that many babies. They were acting pretty skittish, so I backed off and let them be. I probably shot 50 pictures, and I was just praying that one was going to turn out sharp because the waves were so strong it was nearly impossible to even keep them in the frame. Luckily enough, just one picture turned out.”Brent Cizek
But, how did this duck end up with 56 ducklings?
Of course, this is the part that most people want to know! It’s obviously not possible for a single duck to have laid that many eggs. It turns out, a duck with 20-30 babies is not all that uncommon. A duck with 50 ducklings is, however, quite a large number! Of course, they are not all her own! According to Kenn Kaufman, field editor for Audubon, ducks will often lay a couple of eggs in other ducks’ nests. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why they do this.
In mid-July Brent spotted the mother duck with 56 ducklings again. This time her brood had increased to a staggering 76!
“I have been trying to track her daily to see how many of the young survive. So far she is doing a great job looking after them. I have seen a few local people also post photos to Facebook after they saw my post. So far everyone has been incredibly excited to see the group,”Brent Cizek