Tag Archives: ducks

Wood Ducks ©Matt Filosa

This Winter, Learn Indoors and Practice Outside

New Online Nature Programs

This winter, enjoy nature lessons from the comfort of your home, then take what you’ve learned outdoors to practice!

Pour yourself a cup of something warm, grab your fuzzy socks, and tune in with us online to learn about winter birds, stars, animal tracks, plants, weather, and everything in between.

Mass Audubon Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, Norfolk

The Wonder of Winter Series
Thursdays • 7:00-8:00 pm

Explore the natural phenomena of winter and learn how wildlife in Massachusetts adapts to the colder season.

Join us for one, some, or all of this series.

Wood Ducks ©Matt Filosa
Female Mallard and Male Wood Duck © Matt Filosa

Ducks & Waterbirds
Friday, January 14 • 7:00-8:30 pm

It may be cold, but winter is the best time of year to view large numbers of ducks with exquisite plumages.

Tracking Mammals
Wednesdays, January 19 & 26 • 7:00-8:00 pm

Learn to interpret the subtle and sometimes glaring clues creatures can leave behind in the wild.

Do you know who left these tracks?

Winter Neighborhood Naturalist Series
Wednesdays • 7:00-9:00 pm

Become a neighborhood naturalist by learning about the winter phenomena happening all around you.

Join us for one, some, or all of this series.

Gray & Grayer: Winter Gulls
Friday, January 21 • 7:00-8:30 pm

Gull identification can be challenging, but there’s a helpful systematic approach you can take to parse out the gray and grayer. 

Barred Owl © John Harrison

Owls of Massachusetts
Tuesdays, January 25, February 1 & 8 • 7:00-8:30 pm

Learn about local owl banding, research, and conservation efforts, and meet some of Mass Audubon’s live owl wildlife ambassadors.

Winter Raptor Identification
February 9 • 7:00-8:30 pm

Find out the best places to view winter raptors and learn how to confidently identify them.

Marsh Owls
February 11 • 7:00-8:30 pm

Winter owls that specialize in open landscape hunting come alive during the twilight hours on Massachusetts salt marshes.

Mass Audubon members get discounts on programs; learn about all the benefits of becoming a member today.

Mallard mother and ducklings © Hien Nguyen

Take 5: Get Your Ducks In a Row

As spring gives way to summer, young ducks that were but mere hatchlings a few weeks ago are growing rapidly. Mallard ducklings remain with their mother after hatching for about 50–60 days until they can fly on their own. Mother Mallards keep their fluffy little ducklings together for protection against predators and favor open water for the same reason, so you’ll often see them paddling along in a cluster or an orderly line.

It takes Mallards over a year to reach full adulthood, but they can begin flying at about three or four months when their wings fully develop and the blue/purple “speculum” feathers on their wings grow in. Not long after that, their bills change color, too, which means they can finally be visually differentiated by sex—males have yellow bills while females’ are black and orange. The plumage is still similar, but by ten months of age, the males will grow into their more vibrant colors: emerald-green heads, white neck rings, reddish breast plumage, and a curly central tail feather known as a drake feather.

Have you seen Mallard ducklings near bodies of water in your community? Can you guess how old they are based on their plumage? Check out our tips for when ducks nest in your backyard and enjoy these five adorable photos of ducklings from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Mother Mallard and ducklings © Martin Culpepper
Mother Mallard and ducklings © Martin Culpepper
Mallard ducklings © Laura Ferraguto
Mallard ducklings © Laura Ferraguto
Mother mallard and fledglings © Doug Pederson
Mother mallard and fledglings © Doug Pederson
Mother Mallard and ducklings © Derrick Jackson
Mother Mallard and ducklings © Derrick Jackson
Mallard mother and ducklings © Hien Nguyen
Mallard mother and ducklings © Hien Nguyen