Seeing a baby animal follow in their parent’s footsteps is about one of the cutest things ever. Cubs trotting behind their mama? ADORABLE. Or what about the parent bringing up the rear of a long line of chicks? TOO CUTE TO HANDLE.
When wildlife photographer Brent Cizek went out on the water of Lake Bemidji in Minnesota in the summer of 2018, he hoped to get at least one good shot before an impending storm.
He got the shot.
For about two years Cizek has been photographing wildlife and only recently has he shown interest in taking photos of birds.
When he took his plastic boat out on the lake, he only brought one lens with him. He wasn’t anticipating coming across much wildlife, maybe a mallard he had seen the prior day.
As he brought his boat towards the slip, he spotted something worthy of a photo – a female Common Merganser followed by 56 ducklings.
“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,” he told Audubon. “Luckily enough, just one picture turned out.”
Although an extremely odd site, Kenn Kaufman, field editor for Audubon, said it’s not incredibly uncommon for a duck to care for a big brood. Kaufman explained it’s because female ducks will often lay a few eggs in other ducks’ nests.
“One possibility would be, in a sense, not putting all their eggs in one basket,” Kaufman said.
It’s also possible that this particular duck adopted a few extra ducks along the way, which contributed to her extra large brood.
Cizek decided to check on the mama duck and her ducklings shortly after his first encounter with them.
“I was able to then count 76 babies with her, so she had picked up more babies along the way,” he told Mother Nature Network. “It’s been remarkable. It’s going to be a sad day when they continue their migration.”
These photos prove just how amazing mothers are. Would you be able to take care of such a large family?
Pass this story on if you were impressed by this duck’s ability to watch over her ducklings.