A mama duck who's been visiting a house on Fire Island for years is bringing some new guests this summer: her adorable little ducklings.
The duck and her mate have visited the same Oak Walk house for years, according to Larry Hillwig, who rents the home each summer with his husband. It seems she feels safe there because it's totally secluded in a neighborhood that gets foxes and raccoons.
About a month ago, the mama duck began nesting in a big planter right by the backyard pool, digging out a shallow bowl and depositing eggs there every day until there were a dozen.
"She would go out two or three times a day, then come back by making a landing in the pool where she would swim around a bit, have a few drinks of pool water, then fly up to the planter box where her nest was hidden," Hillwig told News 4 in an email.
Hillwig and his husband left Fire Island to return to work Tuesday, then rushed back on Friday, when they knew the eggs would be ready to hatch -- the incubation period is about 28 days.
"We made it back just after the first egg or two hatched," he said. "The eggs hatched over a 24 hour period -- the ducklings dry off for about 10 hours, and then the mama has to take them to open water."
The ducklings hung out in the pool for a little bit, and then walked up onto the deck via the pool cover. Hillwig then tried to help the mama and her new ducklings out of the yard.
When they got to a step, the first couple of baby ducks confidently followed their mom, leaping down behind her, video shows. But at least a couple of the ducklings tumbled and rolled over before they picked themselves up and continued to scoot after mom and siblings.
One of the other baby ducks veered off the path and lost his brood on their way out, "but it heard its mama quacking and its siblings peeping so it followed under the deck and met them all outside," Hillwig said.
"I tried to escort them toward the bay but she apparently had her own route to take," he said.
The home is just a few houses away from where a devastating fire burned down four homes and damaged two others, Hillwig said. The ducklings hatched just one day after the fire.