Love, Gowanus Style: Mallard Couple Seems Happy On Canal


Can we look forward to ducklings in the Gowanus Canal in a few weeks?
On a walk across the Union Street Bridge yesterday, I spotted a pair of Mallards on the shores of the Gowanus Canal.  One cannot imagine a worse place for wildlife than the Gowanus Canal, which has been polluted for over a century, but the duck couple seemed to be rather comfortable in this environment. The female even followed the drake into the foul water for a swim, before jumping onto a log and cleaning herself.

According to Wikipedia:
"Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring, at which time she is left by the male who joins up with other males to await the moulting period which begins in June."

Perhaps the Gowanus Canal is far from the ideal place to rear one's young, but the waterway does seem to at least partly fit the requirements for an ideal duckling nursery.

"When seeking out a suitable nesting site, the female's preferences are areas that are well concealed, inaccessible to ground predators, or have few predators nearby. This can include nesting sites in urban areas such as roof gardens, enclosed courtyards, and flower boxes on window ledges and balconies more than one story up, which the ducklings cannot leave safely without human intervention."

As cute as it would be to see ducklings swimming on our canal, the idea is just a bit unsettling.  I would feel so much better if the Gowanus were already cleaned up.