Wild Mallard Nest in Residential Backyard
We live in a S.California residential area. There is a nearby home where the homeowner has been called, "Duck Lady" due to the apparent home she has made in her backyard for wild ducks. We've lived here 21 years and although we've had mallards fly over our home and occasionally land in our pool, we've never had a nest in our yard. Until now.
Two days ago, on March 31st, I found it. I was wondering why she seemed to be in our yard more than usual, sometimes with another duck (I realize now it's Papa). She kept coming out from under a plant we have, which is actually a topiary of an airplane, with the plant inside having grown outside the wire and in need of a trim. So I thought, "Hmmmm, I wonder if she's made a nest for herself there"...
I took a look and about died...there were 6 beautiful ecru colored eggs in a nest!
Filtered sun was shining on it through the leaves of it's shelter and it looked absolutely angelic. I felt immediately blessed!
It is in what would seem a very logical place, 4 feet from our swimming pool, 8 feet from an in-ground spa and in the very center of our yard. Most predators threatening the eggs (rats, possums) would enter the yard from the walls. This is where I have the most problem with my vegetables being eaten - near the perimeter of our yard, not in the middle. But, here's the kicker - we have a Golden Retriever. Our dog is interested in the nest, but only slightly. If she gets too close, Mama has a few words with her and she backs off. She has definitely become used to the ducks in our yard. They seem to be co-habitating nicely for now. Some bird dog, I know. :)
I have a few concerns, which is why I came here for help - and thank you very much for any advice anyone can offer. We don't plan to do much of anything until they hatch. Mama seems to have a handle on things.
My question is about when they might hatch. I have read the gestation period is about 28 days. My problem is that I do NOT want to miss these babies hatching. We have an 11 yr old son who is loving this - I mean, WHAT A LIFE EXPERIENCE!!! I cannot believe we've been given this awesome opportunity. BUT - we need to go to Washington State during his Easter break to research his state report for 5th grade. Naturally, the school break falls right smack dab at the 28 day mark. So, I really would like to predict as much as possible WHEN these eggs might hatch, since we can go at either the beginning or end of his 10 day break.
When do I start counting the 28 days? There were 6 eggs 2 days ago; now there are 9. So, the eggs are arriving on different days, does that mean the 28 days will vary with each egg - and the hatching may take a week? Or, do I start counting 28 days from the first day of the last eggs laid? I'm new at this!!
I will also have questions as this story progresses, I'm sure...like how/when to relocate them, but for now, I'm really concerned about when they might hatch.