When Do Ducks Start Laying Eggs In The Wild?

Watching and feeding ducks at your local pond is a great way to connect with nature. You probably enjoy it more when there are some cute and fuzzy ducklings in tow. So you may be wondering when do ducks start laying eggs?

Female ducks start to lay eggs when they mature to the age of 4-7 months old. Most ducks will lay their eggs between mid-March to the end of July. Ducks generally lay their egg in the morning around 6 am or when the sun rises. It takes around 2 weeks for all the eggs in a clutch to be laid.

If you want to know a bit more about wild duck eggs then keep reading. This guide will take you through all the questions you have.

Let’s get started.

When do ducks start laying eggs?

So you’re wanting to know more about when ducks lay their eggs. Well, that question can be answered in many different ways. Are you talking about the age, season, or time of day? We’ve already briefly answered all that for you, but let’s look at duck eggs in a bit more detail.

What age do ducks start laying eggs?

Female ducks can start to lay eggs once they reach sexual maturity. The average age for most duck species to start laying eggs is 6 months old.

Some duck species will start laying eggs as early as 4 months old. Others are not mature enough to lay eggs until they reach around 7 months old.

The females that are born between April to July usually start to lay their eggs a few months later than ducks born between September to January.

Heavier ducks such as mallards are known to take longer to start laying eggs. This is usually because they are born earlier in the year.

Once the females are mature enough, the males will start trying to pair off with her. The females will normally choose the strongest and healthiest males to mate with.

What time of year do ducks start laying eggs?

Spring is the season when most wild duck species start laying their eggs. This is the beginning of the breeding season.

Laying eggs at this time of year means that the ducklings are born when food supplies are high, it’s warm and there is plenty of daylight.

They are then adults who can survive better once winter comes around. Winter is a harsh season for wild animals and being young makes you much more vulnerable and less likely to survive.

Most duck species will lay their eggs between March and July. That means that ducks will lay their eggs in both the spring and summer seasons.

What time of day do ducks lay eggs?

Ducks will typically lay their egg early in the morning. Normally this is around sunrise between 6 am-8 am.

Ducks are fairly predictable with their egg-laying which is why it’s usually the same time each day.

Sunlight is the main trigger for ducks to start laying their eggs. The sunlight stimulates the duck’s egg-producing hormones.

It then takes the duck around 24-26 hours until the egg is finally laid. Then around an hour after that egg is laid the whole process starts again.

Although early morning is the most common time for ducks to lay eggs, usually it’s within 6 hours of the sun rising. It really all depends on the time the last egg was laid and how long it takes the egg to mature.

If the duck lays an egg late into the day its egg-producing hormones won’t trigger until the next day. This is why ducks may not lay an egg every day.

Related questions

How many eggs does a duck lay a day?

A duck usually lays one egg a day. However, they may occasionally skip a day. This is usually due to a slight overlap time when the previous egg was laid too late in the day.

A duck won’t have its egg-producing hormones stimulated by the late afternoon or evening sun. That means the next egg won’t start to form until sunrise the next morning. It then takes a further day to mature. This then gives a spacing of 2 days.

As the sunlight begins to reduce in the autumn and winter months the duck’s egg production will slow down. Once the dark winter mornings arrive, the wild ducks will stop egg production altogether. That means in autumn the ducks will go for a few days between laying right up until winter when they won’t produce any eggs at all.

Can ducks lay more than one egg a day?

Occasionally a duck can lay two eggs in one day, or even three eggs. It is unusual but not impossible. Just think of it like a human having multiple babies. Most have one but every so often you can get two or more in one go.

Certain breeds are more prone to laying multiple eggs. These are usually domesticated heavy laying breeds which are specifically bred for eggs such as:

  • Khaki Campbell
  • Runner
  • Buff
  • Welsh Harlequin
  • Ancona

Female ducks laying their first clutch are also more likely to lay two or more eggs a day due to their hormone immaturity.

How often do ducks lay egg clutches?

During the breeding season, a duck will have 1-2 broods of ducklings. That means there will be one or two lots of around 12 ducklings.

The average among wild ducks is one brood. Yet if the first brood is born early in March, it’s still possible for the female to carry another brood. That’s because the ducks will continue to produce eggs as long as there is enough sunlight to stimulate their hormones.

Wild ducks will normally live from 3-10 years. Their best egg production is in their first 3-5 years of life. They will continue to produce eggs up until 7-9 years old but the quality is often poorer.

Do ducks lay eggs without a male?

Female ducks don’t need a male duck (drake) to lay eggs. Even if there is no male around, the females will continue to lay their eggs each day.

The only difference is that without a drake the eggs won’t become fertilized. That means the eggs won’t develop into a duckling. You may have already guessed that these eggs are the type that we then buy in the grocery store.

Yet with wild ducks, there isn’t someone to come and take the infertile egg away. The ducks will gather these eggs up and nest on them anyway. Eventually, the female will mate with a male and produce fertile eggs which result in ducklings.

Eggs that aren’t fertilized will be left to rot or pushed out of the nest and become food for other wild animals such as raccoons.

When do ducks stop laying eggs?

Unlike domestic ducks, a wild duck won’t produce eggs all year round. They will normally have a period over autumn and fall when they stop producing eggs.

Really the length of time they stop depends on how much daylight they are exposed to in the morning. This will be very little in the fall and winter months. Once spring starts the daylight hours increase and so does egg production.

During the breeding season, a duck will also stop laying eggs once she has a clutch of around 12 ducklings. She won’t produce any eggs as she raises her clutch.

Once those ducklings are independent she may then start to produce eggs before the end of summer. She may be able to raise a small brood before she stops producing eggs for winter.

This cycle of one or two clutches per year will continue for around 3-5 years, depending on how long the duck lives. If the duck survives upward of 10 years then a female will usually stop producing eggs around the age of 9 years old.

Final Thoughts

Female ducks are able to lay eggs when they are around 4-7 months old. They will continue to lay around 1 egg every day until they reach a clutch size of around 12 ducklings. They will then stop laying eggs until they have raised the ducklings to independence.

The production of duck eggs in the wild is dependent on the sunlight triggering their hormones. That means that when the mornings start to get darker then ducks stop making eggs. They won’t start again until the lighter mornings come back in spring.

Females will produce eggs for most of their lives and only slow down once they get to around 3-5 years old. That’s a lot of eggs laid in a lifetime.

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