If you raise ducks or have ducks on your farm you may have noticed a duck laying its eggs, but how long will it take for ducklings to hatch?
How long do ducks sit on eggs?
Ducks generally sit on their eggs for 28 to 31 days. The typical incubation period of a female duck, also known as a hen, is 28 to 31 days. She stops drinking and eating as usual while incubating her eggs and becomes defensive of the nest.
We’ll share all you need to know about the incubation period and other important factors surrounding duck eggs in this article.
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Do Ducks Sit On Their Eggs Until They Hatch?
Yes, in general, the duck will sit on their eggs until they hatch.
These birds incubate their eggs for longer periods than other birds, increasing the survival rate of their offspring.
Ducks Are Not Like Other Birds
As far as we know, ducks are the only birds that will dutifully sit on their eggs until they hatch. The process usually takes around 4 weeks.
For this duration, mother ducks barely consume any water or food. Instead, they survive on their own body’s energy reserves.
However, if the eggs don’t hatch fast enough, the mother may abandon them. The mother will also immediately be able to identify a dead duckling in the egg.
Read More: How Long Do Ducks Live? We list different duck species and their average lifespans in this guide!
Pre-laying and Hatching Ritual
Mother ducks have a pre-laying and pre-hatching ritual.
They’ll consume excessive food and line the nest down before laying eggs.
Once they’ve laid their clutch, consisting of 8-13 eggs, they won’t do much but sit on them until they hatch 25 to 30 days later.
During the winter months, ducks tend to be more aggressive. When the mother’s body heat warms the eggs, they hatch.
Read More: Best Duck Egg Incubator. Mother hen not around? These duck egg incubators hatch ducklings in no time!
Does a Duck Move its Eggs?
Ducks do not generally abandon their eggs entirely, although they may shuffle them around in the nest.
The female may occasionally move her eggs so that they all touch the brood patch and get the heat it provides.
However, mother ducks tend to keep their eggs in one place, since they are so easy to break.
When predators or other risks threaten their nest, they will do everything possible to keep them out.
A mother duck might attempt to move her eggs in rare circumstances due to predation or inclement weather.
Do All Duck Eggs Hatch at the Same Time?
Since duck eggs aren’t all laid at once, you shouldn’t anticipate them hatching simultaneously. One by one, the eggs will begin to hatch.
Laying and Hatching
After ducks mate in the spring, females lay eggs.
Since egg-laying happens at different times for ducks, the resulting clutches take varying amounts of time to mature.
Female ducks begin incubating their eggs immediately after they lay them.
When a duckling hatches, it is often the sole responsibility of its mother to care for it.
When she has finished with one egg and begins caring for another, her attention may be entirely focused on the newborn ducklings.
Here’s a video showing you this wonderful and difficult incubation process:
Do Male Ducks Sit On Eggs?
Duck males are not egg-layers, just like any other male bird. However, a drake may keep watch over the eggs to protect them from danger.
Drake Involvement in Nest Care
Male ducks have little influence in the duckling’s early phases. After mating, a drake will generally stay with his partner for 10 days.
This protects the eggs but he won’t stay for the entire incubation period.
The mother duck will raise her young ones until they are strong enough to live independently.
During this time, the baby ducks will be very attached to their mom and always follow her around.
Read More: How Do You Incubate a Duck Egg You Found? If the mother duck is nowhere to be found, here’s how you can incubate a duck egg!
What Time of Day Do Ducks Lay Eggs?
Ducks are nocturnal nesters that lay their eggs in the early morning hours. So, go egg-hunting in the early morning.
Ducks, like chickens, often lay their eggs at night or very early in the morning (chickens generally lay their eggs within 6 hours of sunrise).
If you’re raising ducks, you should round them up first thing in the morning.
This is critical to prevent them from getting dirty or eaten. Well…eaten by someone or something other than you, of course!
Read More: Can Ducks Fly? Can they fly as far as other birds? We answer these questions and MORE in this guide!
Signs Duck Eggs Are About to Hatch
A duck egg is ready to hatch when the shell turns red, and you can see veins.
You can use a flashlight to candle the eggs and get a better view of these details.
When hatching, be sure to leave the ducklings alone to hatch themselves. It takes time for the ducklings to break out of their eggs.
If you notice any of these signs, the eggs are about to hatch:
- The eggs may be seen to have prominent veins.
- The eggs take on a warm crimson color.
- You can see the ducklings’ faces through their eggshells.
If you can’t make out the markings, you can also candle the egg, that is to shine a light behind the egg, for additional visibility. This way, you can see more detail within the egg.
This generally occurs on the 28th day of incubation.
Read our related article on How to Candle a Chicken Egg with a Flashlight for a step-by-step guide to candling. It works the same for duck eggs!
Can You Bring Up Ducklings With a Different Mother?
A mother duck will never take care of ducklings that are not hers.
Even though incubating would be possible for another duck, it rarely happens.
If a duck chose to help other ducklings, she could potentially do so, but this is not common behavior.
Read More: How to Make a Duck Egg Incubator. Incubators can cost a pretty penny. Here’s how to make an effective DIY incubator at home!
Mother ducks are a rare bird that tends to sit on their eggs until the moment they hatch. This is to ensure that the eggs are in the proper conditions at all time, and that the ducklings will be healthy and strong enough to survive.