Like a lot of people who live near a water source, I look forward to duckling season. It can be a fun time of year. When duckling season comes, I look forward to seeing wave after wave of cuteness. But, many people may not know when duckling season is in San Diego or where to look for ducklings.
As the days get longer in the northern hemisphere, duck hormones began to change and many females begin to lay eggs and collect them in a nest to incubate. In San Diego, the majority of ducks begins migrating to the north around this time and will begin their nests elsewhere. The ducks that stay here all year begin laying as early as February, but often don’t nest until mid-March or later. Usually, the first ducklings can be seen in early to mid-April. In some years, ducklings have been reported as early as mid-February, but that’s unusual. Generally, duckling season in San Diego is fairly long and it’s not too uncommon to see young ducklings in mid-August. Any ducklings hatched after the beginning of September is a bit unusual. Studies have shown that ducklings hatched too early or too late have less of a chance for survival.
Where to see ducklings are places with either lots of food or lots of cover like reeds and brush. Usually, freshwater lakes and rivers are the best places to see them. Some ducklings may also be found in brackish water areas such as the San Diego River mouth or Mission Bay. Mallard ducklings are the most commonly seen, but an occasional gadwall, redhead, wood duck, cinnamon teal, and ruddy duckling could be possible in some areas. Many mother ducks hide their ducklings and some will only be seen briefly as they are shuttled from one hiding spot to another.
Things to keep in mind:
When feeding wild ducks and ducklings at a park, be mindful of what type of food you’re feeding them. Some foods, such as bread and crackers, also attract gulls and other birds that would gladly snatch a duckling right in front of you. Also, please don’t allow your children or pets to chase ducklings or mother ducks. I’ve seen where kids have separated mothers from their babies rendering their babies vulnerable to predators. Dogs also have been known to kill ducks or ducklings, even small dogs. It’s best to stand back and enjoy the ducklings while keeping your distance.
Please visit my page on Wild Baby Ducks or my blog: Killdeers, Phoebes and Finches for more cute duckling photos as duckling season progresses. Pages are updated as the season progresses and photos are taken.