Males and females pair up in late fall. Nesting
begins in early to mid Spring. Nests are usually made away from
the ducks' main body of water. The male and female will scout out
the nest site together, looking for sites with low predator activity.
Even though she can safely fly in and out of the nesting location,
she does not anticipate that she'll have to walk out once the ducklings
hatch. Nests may be located close to busy streets or in enclosed
courtyards. The female will return to the selected site to lay an
egg each day, and then return to the water to be with the male.
Mallards lay between 8-12 eggs and muscovies lay between 12-18 eggs.
The egg laying process last for an equal number of days. Once egg
laying is complete, she will leave the male (who will wait at the
water for her) and she will begin incubation. By waiting to incubate
until egg laying is complete, this ensures all the eggs hatch at
the same time. At this stage the females will only leave the nest
to quickly get food/water and briefly visit with the male, usually
very early in the morning and late in the evening. She can be observed
taking flight in the direction of her preferred body of water. In
24 to 28 days for mallards (28 to 32 days for muscovies), all the
eggs will hatch within a twenty-four hour period and the mother
will lead her brood back to the water where her mate should be waiting.
Returning to the male ensures protection for both the female and
If an unattended nest is discovered and it has
less than 8 eggs, it may be safe to assume that the female has not
yet completed egg laying. She will only begin incubating the eggs
once egg laying is complete.