Wildlife photographer Brent Cizek was out on Lake Bemidji, Minnesota on June 27, intent on finding wildlife to photograph, and he did! Cizek was surprised when he saw a female with what seemed to be many more than the average number of ducklings following her lead. He counted at least 56 ducklings.
“ couldn’t have asked for a better photo opportunity,” Cizek told CBC Radio’s As It Happens. “The photo just makes you question, you know, how is this possible? How did it happen? How is the mom taking care of so many ducks?”
Returning a few weeks later, Cizek spotted the mother duck and ducklings again, only this time there where even more than on the first occasion, about 20 more, he estimated.
“It’s hard not to look at her and say OK, you know this is pretty unbelievable. Multiple people are saying, you know, ‘Mom of the year,’” said the photographer.
When he posted the photos on social media he received thousands of comments and shares. ’’It wasn’t easy to capture the lively little ducklings,’’ he said. Out of the 50 or so photos he took a lot of them were not clear enough to use. .
MAMA MERGANSER! I was able to track down the now famous Lake Bemidji Common Merganser that has an adopted brood of over 76 babies! I love the story that these photos tell.
— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 17, 2018
“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 remembers. “Luckily enough, just one picture turned out.”
Large groups of ducklings often follow one adult female, a designated ‘babysitter’ so to speak, usually in much smaller groups of between 20 and 30. The merganser duck, like the one Cizek photographed usually only incubate up to 20 eggs at a time which definitely makes his find very unique.
It is likely that this mama duck gathered several ducklings who were separated from their own mothers and will likely follow her until they have grown enough to take care of themselves.
Cizek is a strong supporter of the organization’s mission to protect birds and their natural environments and hopes his “once-in-a-lifetime” image will inspire people to stand up for animals like Mama Merganser and her many ducklings, and make a donation to the Audubon Society.
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