Last summer, a photographer captured fifty ducklings following him, and soon that photo became viral. Brent Cizek, an amateur photographer who captured these merganser ducks, is still popular on social media with his photo.
Before setting up to take pictures of the lake, Brent Cizek went for a walk to explore the nature around Lake Bemidji that is located in Bemidji, Minnesota. Expecting to see something eye-catchy, he only took one camera and one lens. He couldn’t imagine what was going to happen next!
He saw the ducklings and took one photo of them. First, there were no more than 56 babies, but when he found them again later, there were 20 more babies.
He decided to take his boat out and said: ‘Well, it wasn’t the greatest idea as it was quite windy that day and the waves were tossing my boat around in any direction that it wanted to. I decided to carry on, knowing that it wasn’t likely that I would see anything, much less be able to take a photograph with the choppy water.’
At the beginning he saw one duck and followed it, just to see that is was being followed by a trail of ducklings. He began snapping pictures straight away. ‘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 added. After trying so hard to take a perfect photo, he captured one clear photograph of the sweet family. The National Audubon Society noticed the brilliant photograph, and they wrote down the story, as it began to spread across the internet.
Cizek said: ‘It kind of compels you just to look and wonder: How? How did this happen? How is this mom taking care of all of these ducklings? She just looks really proud and stoic in the photo.’
He thought there were only 50 ducklings. Shockingly, when he came back to take another trip to the Lake Bemidji, he counted 76 baby ducks with their mom, and Cizek thinks that mama duck picked up more babies along the way. He adds: ‘It’s been remarkable. It’s going to be a sad day when they continue their migration.’
Even though he counted that many babies, mergansers are not able to hatch more than 13 eggs at a time. For these ducks, it is common to have large broods. Mama Mergansers do not always lay their eggs in their own nests. By laying their eggs in other ducks’ nests they try to save as many babies as they can, and be ensured that some of their offspring are going to survive.
A ducky daycare can be another reason why so many ducklings followed Mama Merganser. Many separated ducklings can follow other ducks that are looking like their mothers, and that may be the reason here. Merganser ducks look similar to each other, and that’s why mother ducks can’t find the difference between hers and other else’s’ babies. And for the same reason, baby Mergansers search for someone who looks similar to their mama.
We will never find out how this family was made. Who knows, maybe some of her babies may carry on picking up other ducklings from the lake, later on, making a great family like this again!