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Duckling vs Turtle [lots of pics]

Discussion in 'Birds' started by Chris_B, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    While I was watching the egrets and heron at the marsh, I noticed that the mother merganser was getting agitated. After a minute of watching the mother and a duckling that appeared to be struggling, I figured out that a snapping turtle had the duckling by the foot. The following struggle for life went on for about 20 minutes.

    These shots are not all that great but the raw nature aspect of it was pretty compelling to me at the time.

    At first, I think the Merganser duckling was just startled.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I think the mother knew that this was bad and immediately flew to assist.
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    I'm not sure that there was anything the mother could have done to help but she was trying to fight off the snapping turtle.
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    The ducking was literally struggling for it's life and reaching for its mother.
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    All the rest of the family could do was stay out of the water and watch.
    View attachment 99648

    I not sure what the turtle's plan was. Do they try to drag the duck's under to kill them?
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    Well this story has a happy ending. After a 20 minute struggle, the duckling escaped. I was told that there were 12 ducklings a month ago and my guess is that this snapper had something to do with the missing 6.

    Here is the duckling shortly after it escaped.
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    Here is the snapper shortly after the encounter. It was swimming back to the log where the other ducklings were standing.

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    Here is another snapper from another part of the marsh. Not to be messed with for sure.
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  2. Tim O

    Tim O

    Jun 11, 2006
    Great captures Chris,glad there was a happy ending this time.I would say most of the time the snapper wins,you got to witness mother nature at its finest.Thanks for sharing this exciting moment with us
  3. Vienna Pics

    Vienna Pics

    Nov 14, 2005
    Great series Chris, guess I should have gone up to West Virginia last Sunday to make hay.....
  4. Dave_Canada

    Dave_Canada Guest

    Great series ! right place at the right time for sure good job as well I usually blow my settings when i get excited in these situations.
  5. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks for the nice words Tim, Mark and Dave.
  6. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    Great series.
  7. Great series.... nature certainly is amazing in the daily struggle to eat and not be eaten! So gad to hear about the happy ending. Snapping turtles are ugly beasts and nasty ones too.
  8. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chris :

    Neat series !

    I once watched a snapping turtle progressively eat a series of (much smaller) ducklings swimming in a line behind their mother. The turtle pulled each one at the end of the line under, gobbled them up, and then moved on to the next. It successfully consumed four or five before one squeaked in pain as it was savagely yanked under, then the rest swam up to Mom, and onto a nearby bank.

    I've also seen snappers take out full grown grebes where they could pull them deep enough under water. The waterfowl would typically surface several minutes later, bloody pieces dangling where the turtle had bitten them with that harsh beak, and then the turtle would consume them in a leisurely manner.

    Turtles are pretty successful from an evolutionary perspective, having existed for far longer than man. There's a strong reason why so many birds and small creatures give snapping turtles a wide berth (and humans should, too, as the beak is strong enough on the larger ones to mangle a finger at one snap).

    John P.
  9. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks Jeff/Sandi/John.

    John - it appeared that the turtle was dragging the duckling around the pond and trying to drag it under. The duckling was struggling quite a bit for at least 20 minutes. My guess was that the turtle was trying to find deep enough water to take the duck under and eventually gave up. I was surprised that the duckling was able to free itself. It appeared pretty much unharmed when it crawled up on land after the encounter. I figured that the turtle could easily snap the duckling's leg but for the most part, it appeared unharmed.
  10. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chris :

    Different circumstances than my observation. The snapping turtle was immense, looking like the best part of two-plus to three feet shell-front-to-back, and the ducklings were fresh hatched perhaps days before. Each one was pretty literally, "bite-size" for the snapper.

    As for your duckling, the snapper may only have snared a part of a webbed foot, and was reticent to re-bite because the duckling could get away. And that seems to have been the case ultimately.

    Again, a fine series that you captured.

    John P.
  11. Baxter


    Jan 8, 2007
    Clemson, SC
    Awesome stuff Chris. Nature at work.
  12. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I always knew they were a dangerous turtle. Had no idea they eat DUCKS!!!!!!!!!eeeekkkk
  13. Chris_B


    Mar 12, 2006
    Arlington, VA
    Thanks Hunter and Gale.
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