3

In addition to all of the ducklings currently around the area, one will also see mallard ducks without, (the mallards would run the duck with a red head off if they had ducklings).

Mallard and red headed duck

Lots of other animals such as foxes will eat ducklings, are there any statistics as to how many ducklings survive.

To be more specific according to my comment below:

My assumption is that there are duck pairs that had ducklings and then lost all of them, as in the picture. I would say between hatching to able to fly.

  • From population dynamics, a pair of ducks will have 2.something ducklings make it to adulthood and parenthood, barring exponential population growth. But I think you want to focus on young ducklings, not yearlings? – Jon Custer Jun 5 '18 at 20:16
  • @JonCuster THe younger ones – Charlie Brumbaugh Jun 5 '18 at 21:20
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    Maybe clarify: "from egg to mature enough to fly"? I don't know but I suspect that there are several windows of loss, * Eggs eaten before hen starts sitting, eggs lost while sitting (fewer), eggs failing to hatch for a number of reasons. Immature chicks dying from in the first 3 days due to health issues. Loss from missadventure, Loss from predators. Also the age and experience of the parents have a HUGE impact. In my experience with ducks and chickens on the farm, first time hens have losses of 75-100% without predator issues – James Jenkins Jun 6 '18 at 12:44
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    @JamesJenkins My assumption is that there are duck pairs that had ducklings and then lost all of them, as in the picture. I would say between hatching to able to fly – Charlie Brumbaugh Jun 6 '18 at 14:28
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    It probably isn't relevant to the question, but I believe the middle duck in your photo is a female common merganser. Red headed duck, indeed. – cobaltduck Jun 8 '18 at 17:45
5

There is indeed data on mallard duckling survival, which in retrospect is not that surprising given the number of wildlife biologists and the interest of fish and game departments in the number of ducks.

One recent paper, Duckling survival of mallards in Southland, New Zealand, Erin J. Garrick et al, in The Journal of Wildlife Management, contains the following in the abstract:

In 2014, we investigated mallard duckling survival on different pastures relative to a suite of characteristics pertaining to the adult female, clutch, brood, weather, and habitat. We monitored 438 ducklings from 50 radio‐marked females to 30 days post‐hatch. Duckling survival was unaffected by pasture type but increased with duckling age, the presence of ephemeral water, and with greater distance from the nearest anthropogenic structure. Survival was lower for broods of second year (SY) females than for broods of after‐second year (ASY) females, in areas with more dense cover, and when ducklings moved, on average, greater daily distances. Cumulative 30‐day duckling survival ranged from 0.11 for ducklings of SY females without ephemeral water present to 0.46 for ducklings of ASY females with ephemeral water present.

Note that is only for the first 30 days.

In 'Survival of radio-marked mallard ducklings in south Dakota', Joshua D. Stafford and Aaron T. Pearse, Wilson Journal of Ornithology 119(4) 585-591 (2007), the abstract contains:

Survival of ducklings to 30 days was 0.42 at Oakwood (95% CI, 0.13-0.67) and 0.77 at Mickelson (95% CI, 0.42-0.92).

In 'Factors affecting survival of Mallard ducklings in southern Ontario', S.T. Hoekman et al., CONDOR 106(3) 485-495 (2004), they say:

Mean 30-day duckling survival across sites was 0.40 (range 0.07-0.50).

All in all, the odds don't look good for ducklings...

  • Jon, would you mind adding links to the last two studies you quoted from? I've read some parts of them and they're interesting, full of a lot of pertinent information. Thanks! – Sue Jun 19 '18 at 15:36
  • @Sue - the Wilson Journal of Ornithology does not seem to be available online before Volume 122. I'll put in the Condor one... – Jon Custer Jun 19 '18 at 15:48
3

In a stable population any breeding pair will, during the course of their lives, successfully raise two young who successfully breed themselves.

Of course there's no such thing as a stable population, so you can only talk about long term population stability. In the UK the mallard conservation status is amber.

However given that there seem to be an extra 15,000-30,000 breeding pairs over 20 years ago the practical answer is "slightly more than 2" in their lives.

  • The OP is looking for answers about short term survival See comment "between hatching to able to fly" – James Jenkins Jun 7 '18 at 12:17
  • I think the OP is interested in proportion of survived vs born, as this conclusion isn't terribly insightful. – whatsisname Jun 12 '18 at 0:55

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