For about twelve years a pair of mallards has been breeding near Piccadilly Market and are regular visitors to the market. Here they are helping traders set-up early yesterday morning.
They have been known to stop traffic on Jermyn Street as they lead their ducklings from St James’s Church Piccadilly to Green Park.
- The female mallard builds a nest from leaves and grasses and lines it with down plucked from her breast
- The female lays more than half her body weight in eggs in a couple of weeks. She relies on her mate to protect her during this period
- Mallard eggs take about 28 days to hatch
- The normal clutch is about 12 eggs
- Ducklings stay in the nest for about ten hours while they dry and get used to using their legs
- Ducklings cannot survive without their mother, and take 50-60 days before they fledge and become independent
- Mallards can breed when they are about a year old
- Mallards start nesting in March
- Nests have been found in boathouses, wood piles, old crow’s nests, hay stacks, roof gardens, enclosed courtyards and even in large flowerpots on balconies several floors up!
- Mallards live for about twenty-five years.
- Mallards and their nests are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird, or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young. Therefore, it is important not to chase away a duck that has started nesting, since she must be allowed access to her nest.
(With thanks to the RSPB)