The west nest duck has been incubating since May 24th, so baby wood ducks should hatch within 3 days of June 23rd. She has 19 eggs but I think one was added after incubation started (by another duck) and so it may not hatch with the others.
There has been no activity at all in the east and south nests; I think they are done until next year.
As of this morning there are 17 eggs in the west nest box. There were 9 just 4 days ago so there are two ducks putting eggs in there (a hen produces about 1 egg per day). One of them has been staying in the nest overnight for the past two nights and there is lots of down. But nobody was there during the day, the eggs are cool (when I checked this morning – she’s resting on top of them but not heating them), and laying is still happening too, so incubation has not quite started. Soon.
When I open up a mostly idle nest box to check it, I’ll sometimes put a leaf in the center as a “duck visit detector”. Later if it’s gone (buried) or moved I’ll check the camera’s recording to see if anything interesting has happened.
A duck has visited the east nest box a few times for a few minutes, just checking it out. No eggs are there as of today. The south nest box has had no activity since the merganser ducklings hatched 4 days ago.
- The West nest will have another round of wood ducks! See below.
The merganser ducklings really made us wait this morning, but after a couple of false alarms where the hen just went out for some breakfast (well, two breakfasts) and a couple of loooong look-arounds that ended with the hen saying “eh, not yet I guess” and going back in, the eleven ducklings finally jumped.
Usually I never see them again but after the ducklings went downstream I did that too for about a half mile and did not find them. But then on the way back there they were about a quarter mile downstream from the nest box! They are so good at hiding. I got a few pictures such as the one above and some video. A near future project is to create a video composite of all three jump days that have happened in the past weeks. When it’s done it will be posted here, of course.
I was surprised to find so many eggs in there today: 9 of them. Also there is down mixed into the wood shavings which means the hen is getting ready to incubate. About a month from now there will be more wood duck ducklings to watch.
The hooded merganser ducklings in the South nest box have hatched! I expect they will jump tomorrow morning, or perhaps later in the day since they hatched late today.
I will get the outside camera set up this evening. Links to the cameras are on the birdsgv.com home page. Happy watching!
I just now (8:30am) saw the merganser was away so I checked the nest: the hatching process has started. I’m not sure exactly how to judge it, but the eggs are definitely pipped so hatching will begin in the next 24 hours … or perhaps is starting now? Those eggs are broken quite a bit.