As the prairies on the bluffs in Hixon are being restored, we are seeing more wildlife using them for habitat. For example, on 6/29 during a work session on Lookout Prairie we stumbled upon a mallard hen sitting on 9 eggs. This was high on the prairie nestled into the grass and flowering plants:
Mallards nest on the ground on dry land often close to water, but sometimes far from water as in this case. The nest is built from nearby leaves and grass and is lined with down the mother plucks from her own breast. The eggs are incubated for about 26-30 days by the female mallard, then are ready to be led to water about 10 hours after hatching! For these little ones, it will be a long trek and will be the most perilous time in their lives. After reaching water, it will take about 50-60 days before the ducklings can take care of themselves and become independent. So if you see a mother mallard leading a train of young ducklings through Hixon towards the marsh, smile and let them pass undisturbed. Hopefully they will complete the journey safe and sound.