Wild Animals/Long winded duck


We have a duck sitting on her nest in our flower garden, has been there at least since 6/16 is when we first noticed. She is not bothering us she is welcome for as long as it takes. we check on her daily, our concern is that she has been sitting too long. is there anyway to tell if the eggs are still good when she is off doing for herself. we just don't want to see her waste her time when she could be off doing duck stuff. Thank You

Dear Michael

Thank you for your question and for your concern for the duck. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/about/faqs/birds/nestpot/nest.htm says that the mother duck won't start incubating her eggs until she has laid the last one. This will mean that all the eggs will hatch at the same time, after about 25-29 days of incubation. If the duck laid all the eggs before she began sitting on them, the eggs should be due to hatch very soon as it is 28 days since June 16th. You can check if the eggs are fertile by candling them. The following websites should help: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/304863/duck-egg-candling-photo-diary;  http://www.metzerfarms.com/Candling.cfm and http://lancaster.unl.edu/4h/embryology/candlingphotos.shtml.

As you say, the duck would be better off incubating fertile eggs and it is a waste of time sitting on eggs that will not hatch. Hopefully the eggs will hatch soon.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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