While walking at Schanzengraben on Tuesday afternoon, May 21, 2013, from the corner of my eye I saw something move below the leaves and heard a swish. First I thought of mice or rats moving through the bush. I expected it to whizz off when I stopped to see what it was. It didn't. So, it was neither a mouse nor a rat, and when I saw two ducklings I understood why they didn't whizz off - they simply aren't that fast, and they can't fly yet. First I saw two ducklings. Then I noticed there was a whole group hiding under the leaves. Of course they moved away, all in a row, one behind another, when I watched them. Then they moved a little away from the path and took a position where they weren't covered by leaves anymore but were further away from the path. They were squeaking intensly. The mother duck wasn't visible but several male seemed to virtually patrol the area the ducklings were in, at least when no H. sapiens were nearby. I guess they were attracted by the squeaking of the ducklings.
One duckling was higher up in the bush, either the whole group came from there or one had run off further into the bush before I came. Now this single duckling squeaked too, and I noticed the one and the group seemed to alternate squeaking as if they were trying to find each other again by voice. In the end, the single one headed in the direction of the group which it could only have determined by listening to the squeaks.
Female mallards quacking at Schanzengraben in Zurich.
On the Erie Canal
The Mallard (/ˈmælɑrd/ or /ˈmælərd/) or Wild Duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to New Zealand and Australia. This duck belongs to the subfamily Anatinae of the waterfowl family Anatidae.