A photo snapped by amateur photographer Brent Cizek, showing a common merganser duck being followed by over fifty ducklings, quickly went viral.
One morning, Cizek went out on the water of Lake Bemidji in Bemidji, Minnesota, to get a feel for the lake before setting up to take pictures, and took only one camera and one lens.
The day was windy, so he explained that it was probably not the best idea to take the boat out on to a choppy Lake Bemidji. Yet, he decided to carry on even though the waves were tossing his boat around.
He steered the boat at the shoreline, and in the next moment, he saw what seemed to be a bevy. He edged nearer and noticed a duck, followed by a trail of ducklings.
He said that the closer he got, the more his heart started racing as he had never witnessed something like that before.
As he got closer, the group started swimming back out into the lake. Reaching for his binoculars to get a closer look, he began snapping away, firing off as many shots as he could.
He snapped about 50 photos and prayed that at least one was going to turn out sharp since the waves were too strong and he couldn’t keep them in a frame. The super duck mama was being followed by a staggering 56 ducklings.
He raced home to check the images and found one that he liked and was in focus.
He posted it on social media and it wasn’t long before that intimate shot of the extraordinary family exploded. It fascinated everyone who it.
What’s more, the image — and the story behind it — was featured on the National Audubon Society’s website.
Cizek is an ardent wildlife lover and a strong supporter of the organization’s mission to protect birds and their natural environments, so he hopes the image will inspire people to stand up for animals as Mama Merganser did for her many ducklings.
Cizek says the mother looks proud and stoic in the photo, and he simply wondered how she is taking care of all of her ducklings.
Even though all of them are unlikely hatched from her eggs, mergansers do have broods that large. They usually only lay up to 13 eggs at a time, but they do not lay all of them in their own nest.
Namely, they often lay their eggs in other ducks’ nests to try to ensure that at least some of their offspring survive, no matter what happens.
Also, the number of ducklings might also be explained by the practice of separated ducklings to attach themselves to ducks that look like their mothers.
On his latest visit, he counted the ducklings again, and apparently, Mama Merganser had picked up more babies along the way, so they were 76 with her.