Do Ducks Leave Their Eggs? The Good Mothers And Good Brooders!

I have a duck laying on several eggs. The duck showed great efforts in building its nest, so it plucked its feathers and collected straw until it made a nest and settled in it.

The duck sat on her eggs 24/7 patiently without interruption, except sometimes she would leave for a little while to get food and water for herself. Two days ago, we did not see the duck sitting on her eggs, so what caused her to leave her nest?

It is known that birds sit on top of their eggs and never leave them until they hatch, except in a few times to obtain food and water. Ducks do roughly the same thing and don’t leave their eggs so easily

But some circumstances cause ducks to leave and leave their eggs. There are also some breeds of ducks that do not have maternal affection, as they are impatient to sit on eggs, but rather they are left for long periods and go until the eggs are spoiled and the embryos die.

Therefore, it is necessary to get acquainted with the reasons why ducks leave and leave their eggs, to avoid them.

You should also be aware of the breeds of ducks that work as good incubators and the breeds of ducks that are poor sitters to lay eggs in a nursery and not leave them to go to waste as a result of their indifference.

In the coming lines, we will discuss the likelihood that ducks will leave their eggs and the reasons that lead to this. We will present some breeds of ducks and their classification in terms of being good and reliable incubators for hatching eggs or not.

Do Ducks Leave Their Eggs?

Two White Ducks

No, Ducks often do not leave their eggs except in cases of extreme necessity, such as:

1. Meeting Basic Needs

Ducks leave their eggs twice a day. One in the morning and another in the afternoon for drinking water and eating food, so that they can continue their efforts in incubating the eggs until they hatch. 

2. In Danger 

Ducks also may leave their nest in the event of danger or threat, as the ducks quickly get scared and may not return.

3. Dead Eggs 

Ducks also abandon their eggs if they are not viable.

Understanding the Behavior of Sitting on Eggs 

Female ducks usually sit on their eggs every day almost continuously to keep their developing embryos warm. They spend nearly twenty-three hours a day incubating their eggs! They continue like this for up to a month, until the ducklings hatch.

The incubating mother often takes a short break from her lap every day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, to spend her needs of water and food, and then quickly returns to her nest. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a nest full of eggs to be abandoned, except in some poor-sitting breeds.

Although the maternal instinct differs between duck species, if a duck collects its eggs and plucks its feathers to form a nest, it is a good incubating mother and will often do its best until the eggs hatch.

Often ducks that can leave their eggs do not make a nest or collect eggs from the beginning. Rather, she is satisfied with laying her eggs and practicing her life without thinking about incubation and obtaining ducklings.

Are Good Incubators Also Good Mothers?

As the breeds of ducks are divided into good mothers and not-so-good mothers. Even good mothers include good incubators that sit only on the eggs until hatching and other subtypes that really good mothers sit on the eggs until hatching and care for ducklings not leaving them alone.

Even good incubators are good during the incubation period of eggs, but they do not care about the young after the eggs hatch, while the Ducklings follow their mom, she may go off uninterested.

She feels her mission is over after sitting on the eggs and hatching the ducklings. There are also duck strains that have incomprehensible maternal behavior. They lay eggs and sit on them, but they get bored after a few days and leave them.

The matter is very complicated for ducks, as maternity behavior is not a specific behavior or has certain patterns like other birds, but rather it varies and takes multiple patterns based on the breed of ducks.

To make it clear, we can divide it into duck breeds according to the maternal instinct and sitting on eggs.

Note, that this is not a division documented by poultry organizations, but it is just a simple division to get to know the types of ducks in terms of dealing as mothers and incubators.

Good Mothers

Mother Duck And Their Babies

We can say that these breeds are really good mothers in all aspects. She sits on the eggs until they hatch without getting bored or tired. She also takes care of her young after hatching and teaches them how to find their food, how to swim, and all the skills they need.

For example, Muscovites are excellent mothers as you will ensure that your female will be excited to sit on the eggs when the time is right and they are expert mothers.

A duck can incubate upwards of 30 eggs at a time with a high success rate! You may do this 2-3 times a year! Their large size is an added advantage to the success of their eggs being hatched as it helps them to be able to keep the eggs plenty warm.

In addition to the excellent ability of the Muscovy to sit on the eggs patiently without getting bored until they hatch, the Muscovy will also be an excellent mother to her ducklings.

she takes great care of them and does not abandon them, and she doesn’t mind raising other domestic birds if they hatch in the same with her ducklings.

Mallards are also excellent mothers, as they sit almost continuously on their eggs until they hatch. Mallard ducklings enjoy the company of their mother who takes great care of them and teaches them everything so that they can adapt to their environment and depend on themselves.

Good Brooders

Two American Pekin Duck

We can say that these strains sit on the eggs and remain patient until they hatch, but their maternal instincts are almost non-existent, as soon as the eggs hatch, they leave the nest and do not come back, thinking that their job has ended with the hatching of the eggs.

They are not interested in caring for their young or teaching them how to obtain food and adapt to the environment. so these duck breeds must be taken care of at this point in that the ducklings are born and cared for by the duck owner.

These breeds cannot be judged to be bad mothers as they can still make excellent brooders. The step of sitting on the eggs until they hatch cannot be underestimated, as it is a tedious task and causes the duck a lot of suffering.

At the same time, it saves a lot of money and effort for the duck owner. as it saves him from collecting eggs and placing them in artificial incubators until they hatch. Some duck eggs may last about a month until they hatch, which comes at great costs, as the battery consumes electricity throughout this period without interruption.

The Indian Runner And Khaki Campbell

For example, the Indian runner and Khaki Campbell duck, make a nest, gather her eggs in it, and sit on it until it hatches.

However, as soon as the ducklings hatch, they set off as if their tasks were limited only to sitting on the eggs!

Taking care of the young and caring for them is not among her tasks, as the maternal instinct is not strong in them, so care must be taken for their young so that they do not perish.

Poor sitters, This type of duck is called a poor sitter, as it sits for a while on the eggs, but it is not committed to its task, so it quickly gets bored and leaves its eggs. They do not focus on their tasks, but they get bored and distracted very quickly and leave their eggs for any reason.

They may come back to sit on the eggs again for half a day or a day or a few days or even a week at a stretch but they get bored again and abandon their eggs. So in the end you get nothing from them but rotten undeveloped eggs, which they leave in their nest and go away.

Pekin Ducks

For example, Pekin ducks are among the poor sitters, as although they are excellent egg layers, they lay about 200 to 300 eggs per year, and also start laying eggs when they are five to six months old. However, she has a key defect, which is that she is a poor sitter and causes heavy losses in fertilized eggs.[1]

Pekin ducks sit on their eggs for a few days, but they quickly get bored and leave their eggs for any reason, as she is quick to disperse. You may continue this act more than once, as it goes and comes back, and the outcome of this, in the end, is rotten eggs that can be used, neither by eating them nor by obtaining ducklings.

So, if you are raising this breed, you have to take her eggs and put them in a nursery if you want to get new generations of ducks.


How Long Can a Duck Stay Off Her Eggs?

Ducks should not be away from their ducklings for more than 1-2 hours a day once the incubation period begins. The duck must sit on its eggs for about 23 hours a day so that the fertilized embryos can grow into ducklings.

If the incubation period is less than that, then this will be unsafe for the developing embryos and will expose them to death.

Will a Duck Come Back To a Disturbed Nest?

Ducks often do not return to the destroyed nest, as ducks are cowardly and stoic and always love to be away from sources of danger. Also, the maternal affection in some breeds of ducks is not strong, so they do not sacrifice themselves for their eggs.

How Can You Tell If a Duck Egg is Abandoned?

If it stays without a duck sitting on top of it for a long period of more than two hours. Also If it is cold if you touch it, likely, the mother duck left long enough to make the egg lose all the warmth that the broody duck was providing it.

What To Do When a Duck Abandons Her Eggs?

You have to keep the eggs in constant warmth. You can use a heat lamp to help with this, but this should only be temporary until you transfer the eggs to an incubator.

You can’t save the eggs until they hatch, as they need to be turned a quarter turn every few hours. You can also contact local bird welfare agencies, a zoo, or an animal shelter if you cannot take this responsibility.

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Doaa Salah
The shy one (too shy to put her photo) and the only girl in our team! Doaa is a veterinarian who is passionate about writing content. She knows a lot about animals and birds, as she has been studying them for many years now. Her goal? She is researching and learning to convey to you all the knowledge she have and what's new about farming.