A mama duck took some babies for a swim on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota, an amateur wildlife photographer took some photos and now the internet ― and the rest of the media world ― just can’t get enough of the waterfowl.
The number of ducklings has something to do with that: 76.
And the photographer, Brent Cizek, who captured the image of the adult common merganser taking dozens of ducklings for a swim also has something to do with it.
Cizek told The New York Times that he first spotted the ducks in late June. “It was mind blowing,” he said. “I didn’t know that a duck could care for that many chicks.”
Actually, it’s not so uncommon, the National Audubon Society says on its website. Ducks often lay eggs in other nests in addition to their own, said Kenn Kaufman, field editor of Audubon magazine. And if ducklings get separated from their mothers, they will instinctively follow another hen.
Wildlife photographer @brentcizekphoto recently captured this incredible photo of a Common Merganser mother with an adopted brood of 50+ chicks! Find out why such big brood counts are pretty common for this species: https://t.co/kGqJPYvqM8 pic.twitter.com/QVL6po71dO
— Audubon Society (@audubonsociety) July 19, 2018
David Rave, a wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told The New York Times that the common merganser is one of a number of birds that employ a sort of day care system known as a crèche. Essentially, hens leave their ducklings in the care of an older female duck that has experience raising babies.
The mother duck will probably care for this crèche for a couple more weeks, the Audubon Society said. In the meantime, Cizek continues posting photos of this extended feathered family.
And he teased on Twitter that there might be a sighting of the mama duck on “The Tonight Show” on Friday night.
— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 26, 2018
I LOVE THESE BIRDS. pic.twitter.com/mCKJeiYMUh