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Is it usual for 26 eggs to be in the nest of a mallard?

Sent in by Mike Thompson, Cemaes Bay, Anglesey

Mallards normally choose to nest near water and ideally within well-covered vegetation.

However, artificial nest boxes, baskets and other man-made structures can also be used and some mallards have even been known to use flowerpots situated on high-rise flat balconies!

Nests are usually made of grass and other vegetation and are lined with soft down feathers. Mallards can lay a maximum of around 16-18 eggs, but a normal clutch is more likely to contain 10-12 eggs. These eggs will not all be laid at once and are normally laid within 1 to 2 day intervals. Once the clutch is complete, the female will then begin to incubate the eggs and this takes up to 28 days.

26 eggs in one nest, is mostly likely to be the work of two separate ducks, as you suggest. It is not entirely certain as to how this may have come about, but one possibility, may be that the original occupant either died or abandoned the nest as a result, of disturbance or threat of predation. Whilst mallards can sometimes nest as close as a metre to each other, they are not colonial in their nesting habits and this occurrence is likely to be result of an opportunistic female.

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