There was a time when a Mallard duck could lay her eggs pretty much anywhere without concern that there might be impassable obstacles between her future hatchlings and the nearest body of water. But human changes to the landscape, including buildings, fences, roads and the draining of countless acres of wetlands, have put an end to those relatively carefree nesting days. Unfortunately, the ducks have yet to realize it.
As I write this I know that there are mallards all over the Greater Seattle Area that are sitting on eggs in planters, hedgerows and at the edges of lawns. Others are already marching newly hatched ducklings toward the nearest water source. I know this both from past experience, and from the fact that we have already received many young mallards this year that have gone astray during their first overland journey.