There's nothing more adorable than a long line of ducklings happily swimming along behind their mama, their fluffy little bodies calmly bobbing on the surface (and tiny feet rapidly paddling below). Generally, a mother duck is followed by anywhere between five to ten ducklings. That's not this case here, as this particular mother—let's call her "Super Mom"—was photographed with 56 babies in tow!
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Last winter, wildlife photographer Brent Cizek bought a small boat to get closer to animals, with the hope of capturing them in their natural environments. That summer, he headed to the larger lakes of Minnesota. One day he arrived on Lake Bemidji, which was rough. But that didn't deter him.
"Well, it wasn't the greatest idea as it was quite windy that day and the waves were tossing my boat around in any direction that it wanted to," Cizek said. "I decided to carry on, knowing that it wasn't likely that I would see anything, much less be able to take a photograph with the choppy water."
But he needn't have worried, because just a short while into his Bemidji adventure, he spotted a female Common Merganser – a species of duck – with a veritable fleet of ducklings trailing behind her.
"The closer that I got, the more my heart started racing as I had never witnessed something like this before," he said. "I knew that this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity, so I immediately tried to fire off as many shots as I could, just hoping that one of the photos would turn out."
"I was able to then count 76 babies with her," he continued on tallying up what his photo captured. "So she had picked up more babies along the way. It's been remarkable. It's going to be a sad day when they continue their migration."
Scientists noticed that not all of the ducklings were related to the mother duck and that the Merganser's behavior elevated the situation into a kind of daycare system, or a creche for ducklings.
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