May 24, 2004
I was optimistic for the chance to write a long and happy story. But the natural world has apparently removed the opportunity. This previous post introduced us to a Mallard hen, Henrietta, and her nest of 9 eggs. Henrietta was tenaciously attending to her maternal nesting responsibilities. But her nest was not in the best of locations.
And now a hopefully long story is a short one. Henrietta is gone. Her eggs are gone. Both have disappeared without a trace or hint of what might have happened.
Survival in the Mallard world is tough. Unhatched eggs, ducklings, nesting hens, and molting (flightless) birds are the most vulnerable with disease and predators the most common sources of mortality. Something made a meal out of those eggs.
So, is Molly suspect? Well, Molly ain’t talkin’. But I’m going give her the benefit of the doubt. Molly has, over her years, been numbed to the presence to waterfowl in her territory and this nesting hen was not of interest.
My guess, optimistically, is that Henrietta is OK. Hens that lose their eggs become aunts with the role of assisting other successful hens with their ducklings.
We hope to see Aunt Henrietta on the lake this summer.