A Mallard Birthday

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

Azul and Rosita (The Mallards) pose for their birthday portrait at Ashland, May 11, 2011. Image by Derek Stoner.

Today (May 11) marked the First Birthday of the Mallard Ducks at Ashland.  Technically, this should be called their “hatchday” but birthday sounds more appropriate.   Congratulations to Azul ( the drake) and Rosita (the hen), a couple of happy and helpful Mallards that accomplished a lot in their first year of life.

Who are these ducks?  Well, they are domestic Mallards (they look exactly the same as the wild type) that I bought one year ago as day-old ducklings from a feed store.  Through the process of imprinting and countless hours of training, these special ducks are now the face of education and outreach programs that the Delaware Nature Society teaches about birds.

The ducks have performed for summer campers, school students, retirement center residents, and many more folks who are able to learn more about birds through observing the ducks’ natural behaviors:  swimming, bathing, feeding, drinking, quacking, flying, preening, and yes, sometimes mating!  The ducks will even perch on people’s arms and hands!

The four baby Mallards, one year ago in May 2010 at Ashland. Image by Derek Stoner.

The ducks have also made appearances at public events like Osprey Fest, Earth Day Festival, and Creek Fest, giving many people their first opportunity to handle and interact with a live bird.  In just one year, these ducks have  helped educate more than 2,000 people.  And the next year will be just as busy and productive!

Two upcoming programs for children will showcase these famous ducks: “Meet The Mallards” on Wednesday May 25, at 9:30 for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 year-olds, and Marvelous Mallards on Thursday, May 26, at 9:30 for 3-5 year-olds.  Call 239-2334 to register.

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