Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 31, 2012

Clutch of ducklings might be a record

TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee County couple that shares property with a community of ducks may have hatched a world record clutch over the weekend.

A black-and-white duck set up her nest in shrubs between the couple’s home and business. Because of her choice of habitat, Donna Johnson and her husband, Don, were able to watch the duck’s nesting and hatching period.

On Monday, from what the Johnsons could tell, the duck hatched 22 ducklings. That would be one duckling more than the current record of 21 reported a 70-year-old photographer named Brian Moore in Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset, United Kingdom, in April 2010.

“The nest we’ve known about since early spring when they started making the nest,” Donna said. “They’ve been sitting on their eggs since the first of May. I noticed her sitting on them permanently, and when they start sitting on their eggs permanently, it takes about 28 days for them to hatch.”

Donna was initially able to count 18 eggs.

“Usually, early in the morning, she’d get off of them long enough to get something to eat,” Donna said. “On Monday morning, she didn’t come down to eat. I looked down [toward the nest] and I could see babies’ heads.”

The mother duck, which is one of two ducklings that survived a hatching period two years ago, was leading her newborns to a pond between the Johnson’s home and their Tenkiller Marine business when Donna, intent on making a headcount, began videoing the bird family’s first water march.

“All of sudden, these ducks started following her to the pond,” she said. “They started rolling down the hill, and I couldn’t believe I had just counted 22 ducklings. Eventually they made it into the pond. I knew it was suppose to storm, so we gathered them all up and have them in a pen right now.”

According to the World Records Academy website, Moore – the record-holder – captured a mother and 21 ducklings swimming in a lake near property owned by his son. Moore and his grandchildren had observed the duck and 18 eggs in a duck house on the water near land his son was using to keep a garden. The website article reports the ducks died soon after being hatched, noting buzzards, crows and foxes in the area as potential predators.

According to an online Stanford University research article on variation in clutch sizes, the number of eggs in a set laid by a female bird varies among taxonomic groups. Ducks will generally produce an average clutch of seven to 12 ducklings. The article also notes that set, or clutch, sizes can differ not only among major taxonomic groups and among species, but also among populations and individuals of the same species.

The example given to support this observation included the European robin and the snow bunting, which produce larger clutches in the northern parts of their range than they do in the southern. It was also specified that older females of some species lay more eggs than their younger counterparts.

Because of the scientific observation, Guinness World Records PR & Marketing Executive Sara Wilcox said the well-known record book doesn’t track this type of information.

“This isn’t a record we currently monitor,” she said. “Previous research in this area has shown it is not uncommon for ducks to have clutches of around 20 and more eggs.”

Through the World Records Academy website, the Johnsons will be submitting the recent birth of 22 ducklings for record verification, which could take place as quickly as three days, but may take as long as a month.

Per its website, the World Records Academy, which is a member of the Google News Network, is the leading international organization that certifies world records. The records academy checks the planet to produce the widest selection of authentic World Records, noting each new record is carefully verified by noted specialist in the respective field.

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