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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Duckling Survival

A variety of factors influence how many young ducks fly south each fall.

The number of ducklings that survive each year plays a big role in determining the size of the fall flight. The continued loss and degradation of wetlands and associated upland habitat on the breeding grounds adversely affect both nesting success and duckling survival, ultimately influencing fall duck populations. Ducks Unlimited, through its direct conservation programs, research, and public policy efforts, is working harder than ever to conserve North America's wetlands to ensure that ducklings hatch and survive to wing their way south each autumn.

A Demonstrated Duck (and Duckling) Strategy

As a science-based organization, Ducks Unlimited relies on extensive research to inform its wetland and waterfowl conservation strategies. Studies in both the Great Lakes and on the prairies have found that duckling survival is positively related to the amount of seasonal emergent wetland habitat on the landscape. DU works with its conservation partners across North America to restore and protect wetlands that provide this vital brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl. Support in the U.S. Congress for the Farm Bill, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and Clean Water Restoration Act is vital to DU's efforts, and DU is working hard to ensure that ducks and ducklings are not forgotten when important public policy decisions are made in the nation's capital.

Safety in Numbers

Brood amalgamations, or congregations of ducklings from more than one brood, occur when adults incubate and hatch their own young but subsequently abandon or lose their offspring. This behavior has been observed in at least 41 species of waterfowl and may enhance the survival of both adults and young. The addition of new individuals to a brood may increase survival by increasing the number of eyes looking for predators, thereby reducing the risk of predation. Amalgamations typically occur during the first week of life when ducklings are most gregarious and have yet to form strong bonds with parents. Ducklings of multiple families often intermingle while feeding, during aggressive interactions with different family units, or while avoiding predators. Brood amalgamations vary in size from a few individuals to more than 100.


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