PORTLAND — Six northern shoveler ducklings hatched at the Oregon Zoo Sunday and they’ve already become a popular sight for visitors.
The fluffy, downy sextuplets can be spotted shadowing their mother around the zoo’s Cascade Marsh Aviary.
Watch: Video of ducklings
“They are really doing well on the marsh,” said Amy Cutting, animal curator for the zoo’s North America section. “Mom is chasing away other ducks, and the other female shoveler is hovering nearby to help.”
The northern shoveler is widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and is among the largest of any waterfowl. Although it’s hard to tell on the small ducklings right now, their name comes from the species’ huge spatula-shaped bill.
“We have not hatched this species in my 12 years at the zoo, so it’s very exciting for animal care staff,” Cutting said. “Of course, it’s nerve-wracking too, as ducklings are so vulnerable.”
Cutting went on to explain that in the zoo environment, predators like hawks, owls and raccoons are kept out of the aviary, but the ducklings can’t be protected from every risk.
“The fulvous ducks in the Africa swamp lagoon, where the flamingos live, have successfully raised eight ducklings this year, so we are very hopeful,” she added.
The ducklings could get some playmates in the coming weeks, as a green winged teal is protecting another clutch of fertile eggs in the marsh right now.
In the wild, both northern shovelers and green-winged teals can frequently be spotted in Portland’s Smith and Bybee Wetlands.