This Mama Duck Caring For 76 Babies Is Peak Mom

by Julie Scagell
Image via YouTube/CBS News

The mama duck continues to ‘adopt’ more ducklings in need

If you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to get your kids to listen to you and follow you in an orderly manner anywhere. Apparently, we could all learn a thing or two from this mama duck in Minnesota who has not one, not two, but 76 babies following her, all looking perfectly well-behaved.

Wildlife photographer Brent Cizek captured the image on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota and the world just can’t seem to get enough of this adorable family.

Look at those little furballs, all patiently following her around. Though you know she’s probably gritting her beak, whispering “Do not make me tell you again to get back in line” under her breath.

Cizek told The New York Times that he first spotted the mama, an adult common merganser, in late June. “It was mind blowing,” he said. “I didn’t know that a duck could care for that many chicks.” She’s probably questioning that herself right about now, too.

Obviously, not all 76 ducklings are hers. According to the National Audubon Society, ducks often lay eggs in other nests in addition to their own (a reproductive “insurance policy” in case their nest gets invaded). Couple that with the fact that if another family of ducklings loses their own mom they instinctively follow another hen, and you’ve got yourself a gaggle of ducks.

Regardless of where they all came from, this mama’s stepping up big time to care for them until they are old enough to fend for themselves, which will likely be a couple more weeks.

“I probably shot 50 pictures, and I was just praying that one was going to turn out sharp because the waves were so strong it was nearly impossible to even keep them in the frame,” Cizek told the Audubon Society. “Luckily enough, just one picture turned out.”

Cizek said originally there were around 50 ducklings following this mom but when he went to check on her a few days later, he counted 76. I guess when you’re caring for 50 babies, what’s another 26 among friends?

The amateur photographer has been keeping fans updated on this mom’s extended family during the past few weeks and people just can’t seem to get enough. And Cizek himself has been able to keep apprised of their comings and goings, tracking the birds virtually through others in Bemidji as they report seeing them around town.

This is the epitome of “it takes a village.” Here’s hoping this mama gets a well deserved rest when her kids finally leave the nest.