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How Long Does It Take for Mallard Duck Eggs to Hatch?

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duck protecting its eggs in the nest

Mallards begin coupling during the fall. Couples will stay together during the winter, and they will start mating during the spring. Once the female lays her eggs, the male protects the female, but he goes on his way after the eggs hatch. 

How long does the female have to wait before the eggs hatch? The short answer is that Mallard duck eggs hatch after 25-29 days. Read this article to find out more.

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Quick Answer

It takes approximately 25–29 days for Mallard duck eggs to hatch. This estimated time frame happens once incubation has started.

The Mallard’s Nesting Behavior

Before we dive into answering the main question of this article, let’s first provide an overview of the Mallard’s nesting behavior. Understanding how Mallards reproduce and nest will give you a better understanding of the hatching timeline of the eggs.

The courtship between couples typically begins between October and November. Males will try to attract females, and they will couple up. Throughout the entire winter, the couples will stay together until they begin reproducing in spring.

Females normally begin laying eggs in mid-March through the end of July. The average clutch size for a Mallard is 12 eggs. The female will lay all of the eggs at 1–2-day intervals. Every time a new egg is added, the female will cover the clutch to protect it.

At this point, the female relies heavily on the males. The male provides protection over her and the feeding area. Once the eggs start hatching, the male goes away and the female takes the time to raise the young.

Image By: Gelu Popa, Shutterstock

How Long It Takes for Mallard Duck Eggs to Hatch

It’s important to understand that embryo development within the egg does not occur until it is being incubated. As a result, the eggs will remain unhatched for about a month. On average, the Mallard female will sit on her eggs for a span of 25–29 days.

During this time, the female will spend most of her time on the eggs. She will only leave for an hour or so at a time to feed. This is why the female Mallard relies so heavily on the male during the incubation time.

Since embryonic development does not occur until incubation, almost all eggs hatch at the same time. As soon as one egg starts hatching, the eggs all begin hatching within 12–24 hours of one another.                  

Scrape Nests
Image By: Lynette Knott Rudman, Shutterstock


What to Do if You Find a Mallard Duck Nest

Mallards sometimes lay their nest in dangerous locations. It’s important to act responsibly if you ever find a nest of Mallard eggs.

If you only notice a few eggs in the nest, the female is probably still laying her eggs. Just because you do not see the female duck does not mean the nest has been abandoned. Leave the nest be if it is located in a safe location and allow the mother to do her job.

In the case the nest is not in a safe location, contact your local government officials. They will be able to advise you on the safest way to relocate the Mallard and her eggs. In some locations, you may just need to create a safe passageway for the Mallard. In others, you will need to contact local animal control.

Final Thoughts

In short, Mallard eggs will typically be in the incubation period for 25–29 days before hatching. This time frame allows the embryos to develop before the ducklings are able to come out.

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Featured Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.