Amateur wildlife photographer Brent Cizek recently captured an incredible series of photos showing a Common Merganser mom with an adopted brood of 76 ducklings.
Photos of the unbelievable sight went viral on Twitter (here and here) after it was shared by the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting birds and their habitat.
Cizek, who says he has only been photographing wildlife for the last 2 years, spotted the mama Merganser on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota.
According to the Audubon:
The merganser in this picture probably picked up several dozen ducklings that got separated from their mothers. Adult ducks can’t tell which birds are theirs, and lost young birds that have already imprinted on their own mothers will instinctively start following another Common Merganser because she looks like mom.
You can read more about this phenomenon along with an interview with Cizek here. You can also see the complete gallery on Cizek’s website here.