Thursday, April 15, 2010
It's hatching time for wood ducks! We have three nest boxes on our property near our pond and each year at least one of them is deemed suitable by the nesting wood ducks. Yesterday when I was out in the paddock cleaning up after the horse, I realized that one of the wood ducks had been calling from the pond for quite some time. They're very shy ducks, so they usually call (a whistly, squawking, plaintive sound) and then fly off. But this one wasn't going anywhere. That's when I figured out it must be a hen calling to her ducklings to come out of the nest box. You can hear the sound here (it's toward the end of the recording).
She already had 3 little ones with her and I could hear at least 2 more peeping from inside the box. I had hoped to get some photos of them leaving the nest, but even though I checked many times throughout the day, I missed the action. Late in the day, I saw two lone ducklings cruising around the pond.
A few years ago, I was able to see ducklings leaving the same nest box and managed to take a few photos. See this blog post.
I'm not sure what happened to the hen and 5 ducklings from yesterday, but today, a hen was back on the pond, calling incessantly. Since I also saw her on the ground near the same nest box, I assume it was the hen from yesterday. I could hear at least 2 more ducklings in the box, but they never came out on their own. So when John got home this evening, we decided to intervene and release the little ones from the box before it got dark - so they could safely find the hen. John opened the box from the side to reveal two adorable ducklings. We put them in a 5-gallon bucket so I could take photos. Then we each took one and released them at the edge of the pond. They waddled into the water and swam off, not completely sure what to do, but peeping all the while. The hen continued calling and, within about 15 minutes, we watched them meet up and swim to the safety of the cattails at the back of the pond.