The Mallard Family Goes Out for Dinner
and then they come home again —
The mallard is the most common duck species in our San Francisco Bay area. Why this mom has only 4 kids and so late in the season is not clear. Perhaps the Corte Madera marsh is not a safe place for raising ducklings. Certainly she was very attentive during their outing and kept up a constant chatter.
Adult mallards are about 20-28 inches long with a wing span of 30-40 inches; males are larger. Their diet is largely aquatic vegetation and seeds that fall into the water but they will also eat snails, tadpoles, and fish eggs. (From JK Terres: The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds.)
These images were captured with a Canon 10D digital camera and Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS zoom lens at approximately 135 mm zoom. The ISO speed was set at 400 because the light was beginning to drop rapidly (about 7:40 PM) and both autofocusing and image stabilization were turned on.