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This is a guide about incubation time for duck eggs. Wild ducks sometimes lay their eggs where we can watch them, sit and incubate the eggs, hoping to see the babies when they hatch.
Sometimes you may find what appears to be an abandoned duck nest. This is a guide about an abandoned duck nest.
This guide is about incubating duck eggs. If you don't have a broody mother duck, an incubator can help you hatch poultry eggs.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
We found one lone, what we believe to be a mallard egg, in our ornamental grass. Should we do anything?
There is not a lot you can do except just wait and see if she returns. Since there is only one egg and she has not returned, she has probably found what she thinks is a safer place. Mallards usually lay one egg a day and only nest when they have between 8-12 eggs.
Here is a link to information about the mallards:
As of this morning, the egg was gone :-(
I had a wood duck lay 9 eggs in my planter. The ducklings finally hatched yesterday. This morning she had most of them out and on the ground headed toward the pond, but left 2 ducklings behind. I was able to pick them up with my gloves and reunited them with their mom and off they went. When I got home from work, I realized there is one unhatched egg in my planter. Should I do anything with it? Or leave it alone? I assume mom won't come back. Will this hatch without me doing anything to it? It is warm today and the sun is on the planter. It's about 78 degrees out. Thanks!
I would leave it alone. Hopefully she will come back.
Leave it alone. Never miss with nature, as nature has a way of taking care of itself and if we interfere, we often miss it up. Sometimes an unfertilized egg gets laid in her clutch. The momma knows and leaves it. Usually they all hatch within 24 hours of each other, as they don't start to develop until the momma starts to sit after the last one is laid.
Yesterday my little brother and I were at a local park with a lake/pond. Well there's geese and ducks there and my little brother was feeding the ducks while they were laying down, he got too close and they jumped into the water. After they swam away he found an egg in shallow water. We grabbed the egg and took it home and put it in blankets and under a lamp that lets off a lot of heat. It also has small crack. I need to know what I need to do. Also when I candle the egg, you can see the embryo at the top.
Unfortunately, an embryo in an egg that was in cold water for an unknown period and that has a cracked shell is most probably dead. If the embryo was still alive when you placed it under a hot lamp without knowing the required temperature, it is certainly now dead as the embryo must be kept at a precise temperature in an incubator.
If you find another duck egg and it is not yet cold, try keeping it at 37.5°C, which is 99.5°F. If Your room is dry, mist the egg occasionally with water.
This will only work if the egg is still warm from the mother when you find it.
We had a mallard put a nest by our back door. She has been nesting. It is now almost time for the eggs to hatch and something killed her last night. How can we save the eggs/chicks? We know they are fertilized as one egg did break a week or so back and we could see the tiny orange feet. Thank you.
Other options are to contact a local farmer who has ducks or chickens, or a vet who might know who would have an incubator to keep these eggs in till they hatch. When they are hatched, you will have to look after them, but ducks are relatively easy to raise. You might find an animal sanctuary or petting zoo or regular zoo that would take them if you are not prepared to take this on. Good luck!
To quickly improvise an incubator, you need a large carton or styrofoam box, two wired light bulbs one of 40 W and one of 100 W and a thermometer and if possible an hygrometer. Cut a square in one of the side of the box and glue or stick a piece of clear plastic so that you can see clearly inside the box without having to open it
too often. Cut three sides only of another square in the middle of the top of the box that you will use for airing the box and to regulate the temperature. Put the box next to an electric plug. Put two saucers filled with water inside the box to provide humidity (55% of humidity is needed). Get the wires of the light bulbs through the top of the box and put the two lamps on until the temperature inside the box reaches 98.6 °F. Very carefully and moving the eggs very slowly write the figures 1,2,3,4 at equal distance on the flat side of each egg. Put the eggs inside the box on a layer of hay or a blanket, or anything that will help keep the warmth. The light bulbs must be 40 centimeters away from the eggs. Lay the thermometer on the eggs in a position that let you read it through the plastic screen you made on the side of the box. The temperature must stay around 98.5 to 99.5 but never above. To regulate the temperature, use the two lamps by turning on the 40 W light only, during daytime if the general temperature is warm enough and turning the 100 W light during night time.
Refill the saucers with warm water so that it will evaporate quicker. Humidity is very important. Twice a day very carefully give half a turn to the eggs (use the figures you wrote to check that you turn all of them and to the right side). Stop turning the eggs during the two last days of incubation (incubation is 28 days ) but put more water or a third saucer of water for the humidity to reach 65 % during this two last days of incubation. You can eveen spray the eggs a little bit. Do not put the box in a place where it will not be steady or near a machine that will produce vibrations. I really hope this will work and help you !
I was gardening and accidentally broke an egg. Will this broken egg keep the duck from returning to the other eggs?
It probably will. The duck will think there is a predator.
It is difficult to tell but the mother may decide to stay anyway. How long has she been off the nest? Are the eggs still warm? These are the deciding factors about whether is planning to return.
There is a lot of information about this subject on ThrifyFun.
Here is an official web site with a lot of information about wild ducks:
I live in a house where my back yard is a canal, where ducks live. We have about 6 ducks, they have chicks and lay eggs frequently. But today, my four-month old female puppy bought an egg to my backyard door. I picked up the egg gently and it had a tiny crack, but it was still warm, I looked everywhere in my yard, and I couldn't find a nest anywhere!
I went back inside and smelled the egg, it didn't smell bad at all. I put a wool sweater in a shoebox. I wrapped the egg in a warm towel and placed it in the box and put the box under a light. I also put tape on the crack. I have no idea what to do! Is there a possibility it's still alive?
I found an egg the size of a chicken egg lying in a creek today. I was wondering if anyone knew what kind of egg it is and how to look after it. It was really cold so I ran it under some warm water. I hope it's okay. Now I just have it in a blanket under a lamp.
I don't know what to do next!
When an egg comes out of a chicken, it comes out "wet". That fluid is a protective covering, which when dry (it dries almost instantly by the way), keeps a lot of bacteria from entering the egg, because the shell is porous.
If you found the egg in a creek, it is most certainly dead. Not only is the protective fluid washed off of it but even if there were a fertilized embryo in there it asphyxiated from having been submerged in the creek...sorry about it but there it is. You should pitch it because soon it will start to smell bad.
Sadly, I agree with the previous posters. I think it is very likely that the embryo in that egg is dead. If it was in water and very cold, that would kill it. I have hatched chicken eggs in an incubator in a school science lab, and they need a constant warm temp, a fairly high humidity, and need to be turned twice a day. It takes about 22 days, if I remember correctly, maybe longer.
If there are broken wild mallard duck eggs in a nest in my garden will the mother come back? She's laid about 10 eggs over almost 2 weeks. Then stayed on the nest for 2 days and left. Now it's been just about 2 more days, and a few eggs are broken and we haven't seen her. Should I try to incubate? The temps are likely to be be in the high 30s tonight.
I noticed this morning that a mallard hen made a nest in my backyard. This afternoon I had a yard service put mulch down. When I got home the duck was gone and the eggs were covered with mulch. I uncovered them and I really hope she'll come back! Do you think she will return? How long will the eggs be OK without her setting on the nest?
By Monte from Overland Park, KS
I don't really know, but I suspect she's gone for good. That was a lot of disruption for her nest. I don't think the eggs will survive for very long without her heat.
We went out to eat last night, and they've put a little "river" through this shopping area. When we were leaving, I noticed a goose was sitting very intently behind a large rock/stone. I suspect she was sitting on a nest. Not a very good place to pick, considering how close it was to the parking lot & how busy the area is. We watched her for a little while, and I had to keep reminding my daughter not to try to get close, because I didn't want to scare Mama away. But I fear that others will not be so careful.
I think you'll just have to keep the area as quiet as possible, and watch & wait. Good luck!
She won't return. I once disturbed a duck, while she was sitting on her eggs and she never came back, once she knows you've seen the eggs, she won't come back.
Yesterday I found 4 duck eggs and I have been watching them. The mother hasn't come back, so I took them into my house and I am keeping them warm. I need to know when they are going to hatch, which then leads me to needing to know how old they are. Does anyone know how to tell how old an egg is?
Have they been fertilized by a male duck? Unless they have been you will just have some warm duck eggs. Maybe that is why the female duck left them.
Hold them up to a light and see if there's any development going on, that's called candling! This site is for doing chicken eggs, but, will give you an idea!
I found a cold egg in a park and I family visited. It had been there for about 5-6 hours. I've been keeping the egg fairly warm and still. The egg had been laid that day and I'm not sure if it has even been fertilized, but now my siblings and I are so exited to maybe have a little duckling.
If the egg has been cold for several hours, any inhabitant was most probably dead long before you found it. Also, even if there was a living embryo inside when found, it would have died as the embryo requires specific temperature and humidity over time to survive.
We live on a golf course, and a few weeks ago a duck laid its eggs in a neighbor's empty clay flower pot filled with some dirt on her front porch. She has been sitting on them, but today it rained all afternoon, and when we went over to check, the eggs were floating in water in the pot. We removed the eggs, put in fresh warm potting soil and moved the pot under the porch awning where the pot would stay dry.
At first the mother would not come under the porch. She stayed where the pot had been in the rain. i showed her the pot with the eggs, and she immediately hissed at me and jumped in the pot and my husband moved it back under the porch. She stayed in the pot while he moved it, of course hissing and trying to bite the whole time.
Will she continue to lay on these eggs even though the pot has been moved? We have checked from a distance several times, and she is still there.
By Leslie S
I found this online, hope it helps!
If the nest is in potentially dangerous location:
"Guess" when the eggs will hatch based on observations. How long has the female been seen on her nest full time? It is important to have a general idea of when the ducklings will hatch.
If the nest is in a residential area mom and ducklings can be chaperoned on their walk back to the water if there is a concern about vehicular traffic in the neighborhood. Use the guesstimated date to plan for this walk. Also get the assistance of a couple of neighbors, but discourage bringing children along because the mother duck may view them as a potential predator.
If the nest is separated from the water body by a major road, the following should be done:
Find out what body of water the female utilizes. Try to observe her as she leaves the nest for her early morning or late evening feedings. If intervention is needed, taking mom and ducklings to the wrong water body will only make matters worse. In other words, you can not guess (you must know where she is headed). Once she begins incubating, the female can be seen flying to the water source where her mate is waiting (once or twice a day - early morning or late afternoon), for food and water. The water body is usually within 200 yards of the nest site. Even if the exact location is not know, the direction which she usually heads is needed.
Based on the "guesstimate" of when the eggs should hatch, approximately one week before the due date erect a 12-24 inch tall wire or mess fence around the nesting site. The openings should not be larger than 1 inch, otherwise the ducklings can escape, but the diameter should be wide enough to allow mom to fly in and out. This fence will prevent a mom from moving the ducklings until assistance can be provided. However, this only be done if the nest is in a location where someone is observing it daily and the move can occur on the same day (otherwise the ducklings could die from dehydration, starvation, or predation).
Once the ducklings hatch, they can be moved into an escape-proof pet carrier and walked to the water body. Only one person should do the "walk"; a crowd of people or too much activity will deter mom from staying nearby. Mom must be able to hear and preferably see the ducklings throughout the move so she does not get too discouraged and abandons them. If mom flies away, set the carrier down until she returns (usually within a matter of minutes) then resume the "walk". Once you arrive at the water body, set the carrier down then back away and let mom and babies vocalize with one another for a minute or two. If you open the carrier before they have identified their mom, they will scatter.
We get ducks nesting in the yard often, and I believe she will continue to sit on them. I am very surprised she sat in the pot while your hubby moved it. LOL. That must have been a sight. When the babies hatch, she will most likely have them moved before you will ever get a good look at them. That's usually what happens to me. They always seem to hatch while I'm at work. :(
My 6 year old son found an egg, a duck egg. He brought it home. We have it under a light. But we want to know how long would it take for it to hatch?
By Anthony D.
If you just have it under a light, it most likely will not hatch. They have to be kept at a stead 99.5 degrees and with a humidity of 55%. They also have to be turned at least 4 times a day. Then, if all conditions are just right, most breeds hatch in about 28 days. The humidity sometimes needs to be changed as well, depending on the duck breed.
About 6 hours ago, we found 9 duck eggs in front of our house in our flower bed under our bush. When we opened the front door the duck mom left, she did not come back. We are worried. I have a small basket and I've put a soft blanket underneath and we've put all 9 eggs in the basket. I covered them with a tea towel and two soft table cloths. The basket is now in the garage. Our questions:
What do we do now?
How do we take care of the eggs?
Will the mom come back?
Do we put the eggs back?
Please give us some answers, it is urgent.
I would suggest putting the eggs back where they were. The mama may come back to them. Do not leave the blanket or anything with the eggs! If she doesn't come back in the next day or so,put the eggs back in the basket with the blanket. You will need to hang a light of some kind (for warmth) about a foot or so from them.
Also, turn the eggs over at least twice a day.That's what we did when we found our duck dead.We had about 12 eggs in all. All of them hatched out in about two weeks, except for one. We gave them away to our farmer friend. LOL
There is a chance that the mama will come back! Give her a chance first before you do anything else. Good Luck, Kathy
We had a mallard hen lay 11 eggs, 1 was broken. She sat and hardly ever left. We thought they would start hatching about the 4th. We've been checking off and on. She was there Monday! Today she is not there and 3 shells are broken there is down in the nest.
I don't know for sure, but I get Birds and Blooms Magazine and read it cover to cover every time. If I remember correctly, one of the articles said that they do come back. She may be coming back at night and leaving in the morning to eat. You can try taking one egg and try hatching it yourself but these efforts usually do not come to fruitation unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. So if you try it, don't be too disappointed if the egg does not hatch.
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I found a duck egg. I don't know how to tell if it's still
alive. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Chaeda from Columbia, MD
Try to find a bird rescue site that's local online. They will take it and take care of it if it's alive. (03/30/2007)
I know freshly laid eggs can last up to 10-14 days cold and still hatch. They seem to go dormant then once put under a bird or in an incubator they start to grow and take the usual days to hatch.
Nicki from England (03/31/2007)
It doesn't matter what kind of egg (curious how you know it's a duck egg:-), but all above tips are correct. They remain non-fertile until the hen begins incubating them. Once incubation begins they will be dead in shell if the process is interrupted (lack of heat) for more than a a few hours.
You can "candle" them by cutting cardboard circle to cover a flashlight with a
hole in the center (place the egg) going in a dark room, place egg in hole and see if there are red veins). If you decide to make a homemade incubator temp 100 or 101 degrees, be sure to provide moisture and softly turn the egg periodically. Good luck! (04/01/2007)
From what I've been reading online, wild duck eggs, if touched by humans, may never be taken back by their mothers. Consider carefully before you pick up wild duck eggs, the mother may just be off the nest getting some food. (05/01/2007)
Eggs don't get fertilized by something sitting on them.
Here is the bird side of the birds and the bees from enaturalist.com, by Jim Berry:
"After mating, inside the female, sperm swim up a tube called the oviduct, at the end of which there is an ovum, inside which resides the female sex germ. If the ovum is mature, it's already equipped with yolk, the yellow part of the future egg. The sperm may now fertilize the ovum by penetrating it and uniting the two sex-cells' genetic material.
After fertilization, the ovum with its yolk begins its own journey down the oviduct, a process lasting about 24 hours. During the first three or four hours, moving at about one tenth of an inch (2.3 mm) per minute, albumen (egg white) is added around the ovum and its yolk. The yellow yolk will serve as food material for the developing chick; the white will mainly keep the yolk from drying out, and will give the yolk physical support
Now the future egg slows to about 40 percent of its earlier speed, and membranes are added around the yolk and egg white. Finally the shell is put in place, taking 19 to 20 hours. Then, the hen Mallard lays her fertilized egg!"
I use to have a duck. If any of your have a store called Southern States near you, that is where we used to buy our duck food. If not, check with some local farms, they should be able answer your questions. (06/03/2007)
I found a duck egg too and you just have to put it in a cup with a wash cloth underneath it and put a light over it, but not too close. Spray it with warm water every hour and turn it 3-5 times a day. To see if it is alive just put it under a flashlight in a dark room. (06/24/2007)
First see if it's warm. If it it is cold, throw it out. If not take a egg carton and shine a light through it and put the egg on top if there is a embryo inside. Keep it warm (not hot) and find someone who can incubate it. (05/11/2008)
My dog found a duck nest and gently brought home 3 eggs. We saw the ducks on the lake this morning so the eggs haven't been abandoned for long. How do we care for the eggs?
By Jodie from Balsam Lake, WI
The ducks probably didn't abandon the nest. Your dog took the eggs while they were away from the nest. If you have kept them warm, find the nest and put them back. They might still be viable. The smell of you and your dog on the eggs won't cause them to abandon the eggs. In the rare chance that they were abandoned already, they were probably dead when the dog found them. (05/09/2010)
I found a duck egg. How do I know if it's alive and how do I take care of it? I have it sitting in a basket right now with a light on it, but the egg is also covered by a washcloth so its not direct light. Please help, I don't know what to do?
Candi218 from Hot Springs, AR
It is probably already dead. They have to be kept between 92 and 95 degrees, and have a source of humidity. They also have to be turned. Usually a mother won't leave a good egg. You could candle it to check. (04/16/2008)