Minnesota photographer Brent Cizek was scouting locations along the shores of Lake Bemidji when he noticed an unusual sight, a mama duck followed by no less than 50 ducklings!
The North American Common Merganser is a large duck that lives near lakes and river, eats a diet of fish, and nests in either holes or trees. Hens typically lay about 8-12 eggs in a single breeding season, which means this incredible brood must have come from at least 7 different mothers.
“The merganser in this picture probably picked up several dozen ducklings that got separated from their mothers,” documentary field editor Kenn Kaufman explains. “Adult ducks can’t tell which birds are theirs, and lost young birds that have already imprinted on their own mothers will instinctively start following another Common Merganser because she looks like mom.”
Cizek returned a few days later to take a few more shots of the big family. Since his first photograph was taken last week, the mother hen has picked up more than 20 more ducklings bringing her current brood to a grand total of 76!
Take a closer look at this incredible family in the breathtaking gallery below. Like and share this story on Facebook if you love seeing nature at work!