Duck Mating and Egg Laying questions
I have 2 male ducks, one a mallard and the other 1/2 black and 1/2 mallard. I have 1 female that is also 1/2 mallard and 1/2 black duck. Today 12/7/08 I saw the black male mating with the female and that has trigger several questions. How long after mating will eggs appear? At night they are kept in a 8'x8' pen, should I be concerned for the female's safety during the night?
During the day they roam my yard. Lately I have noticed they are roaming in places they don't usually go, like my front yard. The other day I found the female in my azalea bushes while the males waited on the outside. I kind of figured that something was going on. It has been below freezing the past few weeks at night. This is unusual for our area and I am concerned that the female will lay eggs in the yard somewhere. That would not be safe for her or the eggs because of the cold and because we also have a fox in the neighborhood. What are the signs that I should look for to know if the female is laying eggs in the area and what should I do if she does? Is it too early for them to be laying eggs in the winter? Everything I have read says they lay eggs in the spring? I have put a red heat lamp in their pen at night to keep them warm when it goes below freezing. Is it possible that the heat lamp is starting things a little early? I'm not sure what to do here. I have never owned ducks before. We got the mallard in April, and the other 2 in June. I know this is a lot of questions but I have looked for some answers on other places but I have not fount what I am looking for.