Sonntag, 23. Juni 2013

Breeding season

Great crestet grebe.
Finally, it’s time for eggs and chicks again! We had a very rainy and cold springtime this year. This is bad for all bird parents and their clutches, because a lot of baby birds died to the cold. This especially hits the chicks of storks because of their exposed nests.
I got lakes around my home so it’s easy to watch breeding waterfowl and their chicks. Unfortunately I didn’t get so many pictures of them this year, so I will use some photos from the past years. Please read more about breeding water fowl under the cut!

Female mallard ducks raise their young alone. After the chicks hatched and are fully dried they are ready for to swim with their mother. Almost all waterfowl chicks are nidifugous birds.
I witnessed a dramatic scene on the lake lately: A mother mallard duck with seven freshly hatched babies swam on the lake. A gull appeared and circled above of them and suddenly it lunged at a baby duck. All other chicks submerged immediately and the mother attacked the massive gull! After a few seconds the fight was over and mother duck gathered all seven chicks around her. The attack of the gull failed – this time. Oh yes, waterfowl babies have a lot enemies.

Dawwww <3
Normally I don’t feed ducks, but these yobs were too cute to ignore <3
The chicks of the great crested grebe are funny. They have black stripes ranging from the neck to the head and make annoying noises. When the chicks are very tiny you can watch the mother swimming around with their babies on the back. One time I watched a great crested grebe mother for a while. All of a sudden she stretched her wings and body, three little baby grebes fell into the lake. Dawww, that scene was so cute <3 But the three little baby birds found their place back on mother’s back soon.
Both, the father and the mother take care about their offspring. Their nest is well hidden in the reed but sometimes you can find a nest swimming in shallow water as well. The eggs, mostly three of them, are greenish or blueish.

Family swan always gets the crowd!
Once two swans are mated, they will stay together for the rest of their life! Needlessly to say that both parents take care about their offspring.
The eggs are big and white and there are many: About five and eight eggs in one nest! Male swans can be very aggressive, because they defend their territory and offspring. They can attack even humans! They bite and try to hit you with powerful wing beats, so take care. But normally swans are nice but snobby birds ;)
The hatchlings aren’t white-colored at first  but grey and pretty fluffy, dawwww! The youngsters turn into white birds after their first moult.

What would a lake be without bald coots and their ugly chicks? Oke oke, they aren’t ugly at all, but they look strange with that red head and yellow down feathers around it. When the chicks grow bigger they get a greyish plumage. As usual male and female take care about their chicks. Bald coots build their nests similar like the grebes.

Due to the cold and wet springtime the breeding season has a delay. A lot water fowl doesn’t have any chicks right now but I hope we will get a lot of them soon. I miss the cute begging sound of tiny baby water fowl <3

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