(20" x 14"), $1700
As a hen mallard carefully guides her new family past our dock, it has always amazed me how protective and caring mothers in the animal kingdom are of their young. After seeing many of these new families over the years, there always seems to be a young explorer in every group. In this group it was the duckling on the far right. In about a minute, he had wandered off away from the group twice until mom uttered a low quack to get him back in line. She had to keep her eye on him almost continually. Here, The Explorer looks innocent and snapped to attention, but looks can be deceiving.
I had seen this group once before, on July 5, 2014. The little ones must've hatched only days before and on the night of July 4 th the family had to not only put up with man-made fireworks but also Mother Nature's. About an inch of rain fell along with much thunder and lightning, it had to have been a rough night for the new family. As I saw Mom standing on our boat ramp, she hung her right wing low, so low it was nearly touching the ramp. At first I thought she had a broken wing but a closer look told me she had been protecting her little fuzz balls from the elements. Soon, I saw a little head come out and then go back under the wing. This happened a number of times and now that I look back on it all I'm betting this was The Explorer.