Forces of Nature

Every mother’s list of worst-case scenarios includes having one of her children lost or attacked. And most mothers will fiercely fight for their offspring. You’ve probably received the advice to never get in between a mother bear and her cubs. Well, here is proof that you never want to mess with Mama Duck’s babies, no matter how handsome a swan you may be.

This is what happened:

As I approach the duck pond, I hear people screaming and waving towards this trio:

Swan pursues duckling

The swan was in pursuit of the little duckling which made Mama Duck very anxious

duckling in the middle

She charges the swan

The swan counter-attacks

swan counter attacks

The baby has disappeared and Mama Duck flies away

duck flies away

Baby Duckling comes up for air and swims towards the center island for safety

duckling swims for his life

The swan reaches for the duckling and slams it into the water several times. He seems to be devouring it, or else wanting to drown it. People watch in horror from the other side of the pond: “He is killing the duckling, no, no…”

reaching for duckling again

Mama Duck flies into action again to distract the Big Bad Wolf (aka Swan)

Again, he fends her off and she finally flies away to find the rest of her brood she left unattended.

in hot pursuit

duck flies off

The small group of people that has huddled together to watch this drama includes two gay men with tattoos, a young mother with twin babies, another mother with a toddler in hand, and this middle-aged blogger. We talk about how it all started and feel sad for the loss of the duckling and compassion for its mother. Why would a big swan feel threatened by a tiny little duckling who surely would not be a danger to the swan wife sitting on her nest nearby? Suddenly, someone cries out: “Here he is, look, look!”

duckling re-emerges

The little duckling survived the severe water-boarding and had re-emerged close to where we were gathered. The swan had also noticed and started swimming towards the duckling again. People picked up little pebbles and twigs and threw them at the swan to chase him off. Nonchalantly, the swan changed direction which allowed the little duckling to escape into an overflow area full of twigs. Two park employees were readying a shovel to lift the little one into the overflow should the swan come near him again.

duckling hide-out

The swan watched from the distance as Baby Duckling paddled along the edge of the pond in search of his family. I follow along, camera in one hand and a stick in the other, in case Mister Swan starts to act aggressive again.

duckling heading home

The duck family watches quietly as the little duckling steps out of the pond to join them.

mama and siblings

There are no hugs and kisses from Mama Duck but one of the siblings waddles over and cuddles up to the almost-lost duckling

sibling love

Within a few moments, Mama Duck leads the way and takes her charges back into the water.

back in the water

This week’s Photo Challenge is: Forces of Nature.

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
This entry was posted in Animals and Critters, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Forces of Nature

  1. Tina Schell says:

    Oh my – what a scene! And you were there to witness and capture it all! Well done – that scene of the second duckling cuddling with the nearly-lost brother/sister is priceless!!


    • Tina, I was planning a leisurely walk through the park, maybe a few pictures of flowers and kids playing, and then this drama unfolded. You never know what will happen any given moment. Glad I had my camera 🙂 It was amazing to watch this cuddling scene – the mother only watched the two. I guess she isn’t the touchy-feely kind of mom. But, boy, is she ferocious in defending her kids!


  2. dogear6 says:

    Wow – great story! And you had the camera with too – big plus!



  3. Patti Ross says:

    Great photo essay! And you are so right about the force of nature demonstrated here: Don’t Mess with Mama! Thanks for sharing.


  4. wildsherkin says:

    I love a story with a happy ending 🙂


  5. schuttzie says:

    Wow, what a thing to watch and you were able to capture it on camera! Your photos of the tale are wonderful and it is amazing how momma duck defended her baby against the huge swan. Great post!


  6. Whoa! What a frightening experience. I had no idea swans were so aggressive. I was sitting on the edge of my seat hoping for a happy ending.


  7. Swans are the meanest birds EVER! In a previous life we used to watch two swans swimming along a pond we lived beside and they are not nice to anybody or anything including each other. But I cannot tell you how relieved I am that little duckling survived and there is a happy ending to this story. PHEW!


    • Amazing, how beautiful and elegant swans are and at the same time so vicious. Everyone was happy when the duckling re-emerged and rooted for him (or her); it was beautiful to watch compassion in action. But, the swan had already killed several other little ones, so nature takes its course….


      • In observing birds, I am astonished at the mortality rate and that we have any birds at all. At the rate they slaughter each other never mind the damage snakes, etc., do. A ranger in a VA state park told us that if it weren’t for snakes and so forth we would be overrun with birds and i know it intellectually. Still I cannot bear to watch the activity in my nests anymore. Too much carnage.


        • Fortunately, many birds lay eggs several times a year, and get by somehow. We have outdoor cats and they take their share, especially of ground-feeding birds. I often want to get rid of the cats for that reason, but then we’d be overrun with mice and chipmunks….it’s a huge balancing act going on whether or not we intervene in any form.


  8. The ugly truth of nature at work 🙂 — one of the most creative responses to this week’s challenge! Well done! Our state Dept of Natural Resources has struggled with letting nature run its course when social media has opened a whole new world! The Eagle Cam can capture the sad reality when there is an extra mouth to feed that is not as assertive … and last year against their stance to let nature take its course, did retrieve a struggling baby from the nest in large part due to the outcry from those on social media following the nest online!


  9. Wonderful photo series and story…It was such fun; especially since it turned out well.


  10. Great photo’s and story. Whatever possessed the Swan to do that?


    • That’s a good question – the swan wife was sitting on her nest on the center island of the pond, surrounded by adult ducks. No idea, why that tiny little duckling would pose a threat to Mr. Swan. Maybe he’s just a big bad bully?


  11. quarksire says:

    2 Kewl fer SkewL! 😎 dem dere’ quakerz 🙂 luv em 🙂


  12. Super series! Swans are not the nicest birds, so good for Mother Duck!



  13. You told it all in the pictures. What a story! Love it.


  14. Maria F. says:

    What a magnificent story! You got every detail. I love Mute Swans, and I know they can even kill their own mates. Yet this is the nature of this Swan. Beautiful!


  15. rommel says:

    Even amazing that you got all the action into frames, and you captured it so well too. Bravo!


  16. Anarette says:

    Great photos and commentary. Glad the story ended well for all.


  17. Incroyable! The best post by far for Mother’s Day. You are SO talented.


  18. LadyPinkRose says:

    I had no idea swans could be this vicious! My Heart was up in my throat reading this, and I felt so sad thinking that the duckling was lost. When it re-emerged, alive, I cheered!! What an incredible story you have told here. Just wow!! Your photography is stunning and my hat is off to you taking photos while in motion. I really enjoyed this post. And I also went back and really read your Hummer story. *blushing* …. If you knew how many blogs I go to …. no, let’s not go there. LOL (((HUGS))) Amy ❤


  19. LadyPinkRose says:

    I wouldn’t even doubt it, Annette. The drama that unfolded before your eyes … and YOU captured it with your camera! I don’t know if I could even think of using my camera for having my Heart in my throat watching the horror, then the relief, events all unfold as you did. You really do an amazing job with both your Mind and your ability to shoot “mindlessly”. (smile) ❤


  20. A nice story with a happy ending.
    My wife had one that was not so happy. Driving down a busy street in Wichita, Kansas, she happened to see a Mama Duck with four young ones trying to cross the street. Everyone was in a hurry except for the Mama Duck and her young ones. Needless to say not all made it, but my wife and one other stranger managed to stop traffic long enough for the Mama and two young ones to get to the other side.
    Ducks have to survive cars, swans, turtles, snakes, coyotes and other predators.
    Moral of the story, we should all try and help. It makes one feel better.


  21. ailsapm says:

    My heart was in my throat the entire time I was reading this, I think I need to lie down for a bit. Great storytelling, Annette, and I’m so glad the little guy got back to his family. Yikes.


  22. Izzy says:

    Swan probably bore a grudge for the bullying endured during his childhood by those mean ducks laughing at and labelling him an ugly duckling…just joking.


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