Do Ducks Lay Eggs In The Water?

You might be wondering, if ducks spend so much time in the water, do they also lay their eggs in it? The answer is simple.

Mother ducks choose the location to lay their eggs very carefully. They usually nest on a patch of dry land that is close to water. They will often build their nest near vegetation and their nest may even be hidden by some vegetation. In rare cases, a female duck will lay eggs underwater, but it is uncommon.

Reasons a duck may lay eggs underwater include if her nest was raided and she is nervous about another animal getting her eggs. These eggs will need to be brought to land (either by the duck herself or with help from a human-animal expert) for them to hatch.  

More likely, a duck will make a nest by the water. Sometimes, ducks will make nests in less than favorable places, such as in boathouses, roof gardens, and courtyards, and a duck nest has even been found in a flowerpot on a balcony multiple stories up from the ground! 

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When a duck makes her nest, she usually forms a shallow “bowl” in the ground. Unlike some other birds, who carry nesting material to her nest, a duck will pull vegetation that she can reach into her nest. She will usually line her nest with close vegetation such as grasses, leaves, and twigs. Once her eggs are laid, she will also pluck some of her down feathers from her breast to cover the eggs and keep them safe and warm. Once the nest is done, a duck‘s nest is typically about a foot wide and about one to six inches deep. 

Duck egg vs chicken egg
Duck egg vs chicken egg

A female duck can start laying eggs at about five to six months old, and they can continue to lay eggs for many years after. The egg-laying season ranges from the middle of March until the beginning of July. A group of duck eggs is called a “clutch.” A female duck usually lays about one or two ducks a day, until she has a clutch of about twelve eggs. Then she keeps the eggs warm by sitting on them for up to a month.  

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When a female lays her eggs, it is a very stressful and trying time for her. Over only a few days, she will lay more than half of her body weight in eggs. She will spend the incubation period resting – she may not even eat at all during this time period! It is not uncommon for a female duck to not eat during this period because she bulked up ahead of laying her eggs to prepare for this time. 

Mother duck with its offsprings
Mother duck with its offsprings

So if you see a nesting duck, it is good not to leave them the food. This is because leaving them food may cause them more harm than good because the food could attract predators which puts both the mother duck and her ducklings in danger.  

After about 28 days of incubation, the clutch of ducklings begin to hatch together. This process usually takes about 24 hours and then the young ducks will spend some time in their nest just drying off and getting used to moving their legs around. Then their mother will lead them to the water for the first time- this is usually during the early morning hours. This is important because the sooner the ducklings go to the water in order to feed, the better their chances of survival are.  

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Mother ducks will have to teach her young what to eat, even though ducklings can feed themselves as soon as they reach the water. Ducklings also depend on their mother for warmth and for protection- other ducks may attack a baby duckling if they stray too close to their own brood.

Female ducks have a lot of work to do to protect their young until they are able to fly because a duckling’s survival rate varies from 10% to 70%. This is because ducklings are very vulnerable to falling victims of predators (such as fish, frogs, snakes, turtles, large birds, foxes, raccoons, and even feral cats), as well as suffering from adverse weather conditions (such as extremely cold, wet, or windy weather, which can lead to hypothermia), starvation, disease, and parasites.

After about 50 to 60 days, the ducklings learn how to fly and then they become independent.  

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Mother duck with its offsprings in the water
Mother duck with its offsprings in the water