In the spring of 2010 we had a duck show up with 3 babies. We also had one that had 8. The mother of three had issues with other ducks in the pond. It was as if they were out casts, constantly getting picked on. One day we noticed that the mother wasn't around but her babies were. Then after a day or so she showed up. We had seen other young, presumably, first time mothers abandon their young after about a month or so. Problem was she had been injured. Her left leg, wing and side had been injured when she was attacked by some animal. I figured she had saved her babies and kind of sacrificed herself.
We had feeders out for other birds and the ducks would always get underneath to get what was dropped, however, this mother and her offspring would be chanced off. Now there was plenty of food in the pond but, they do like cracked corn and I guess it was a treat. I started hand feeding, tossing food to her only, so she could get healthy. I called all kinds of animal care places but no one would do anything....part of nature I guess plus she had babies.
About six weeks later one of her babies showed up the same way. This baby died, it was injured just too much to help. It was a sad way for it to go. It laid on the bank of the pond one day, drained of energy as it was very hot. I put food right down in front of it but it barely ate. I even made sure it had water by digging a hole near it. We were working out back and noticed the duckling start to move towards the water. It meandered out near the middle, rolled over on its back and literally drowned itself. The mother of the eight started quacking. All the babies, hers and the two of the injured duck got on the bank and huddled together. This mother was a seasoned mother and, like elephant matriarchs, knew what to do and directed the funeral, if you will. They stood in attendance for over a half an hour constantly looking at the corpse. Only the older female and the injured mother stood in the water.
Well, life goes on. Earlier this year the injured mother duck came back but not with babies. She had a male with her. They spent a day or so here and then left. Yesterday she showed up again, with the male and came back again today. We started calling her Chester because of her limp, couldn't think of a good female name to represent the limp. As you can see the foot and leg are there but as she swims the foot and leg leave the water. When she stands on the ground the foot is kind of curled up and is only more like a crutch for balance.
Maybe next year she will be back and have some more babies.