DULUTH, Minn. – The 'Mom of the Year' award goes to this hen!
On a recent trip to Lake Bemidji, Minnesota Wildlife Photographer Brent Cizek snapped a photo of about six dozen merganser ducklings following a Mama duck.
Experts say it is a common phenomenon in nature.
The New York Times debunked the theory that they could all be her babies.
“It’s impossible for this individual to have incubated, you know, 50 eggs,” Richard O. Prum, an ornithologist at Yale University told the NY Times. “That is really too much.”
So why is she caring for 76 ducklings?
Experts say some birds, including common mergansers and ostriches, raise their babies in a day care system that’s called a crèche.
Spent another morning with the mergansers. They are growing so fast. They continue to venture further out on their own, but as soon as Mama Merganser starts heading somewhere, they all quickly follow suite. Count is still at 70+. pic.twitter.com/MkIRc0wUnZ— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 23, 2018
I was able to head out onto the water before sunrise this morning and track down Mama Merganser and her large 70+ brood.— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 22, 2018
Full gallery: https://t.co/R943UEsV4y#minnesota #audubonsociety pic.twitter.com/9xciL9hzyr
MAMA MERGANSER! I was able to track down the now famous Lake Bemidji Common Merganser that has an adopted brood of over 76 babies! I love the story that these photos tell.— Brent Cizek (@brentcizekphoto) July 17, 2018
Full gallery: https://t.co/wg8xioJBIG#audubonsociety #minnesota #bemidji #duck pic.twitter.com/c0Jycct4HX
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