South ducklings out and away!

All of the ducklings are together in this photo, just after the last little duckling caught up with them. It had trouble finding the nest box door and did not get out until its family had gone downstream for a minute or two. When it finally got out it peeped and swam after them and the mother duck called and came back for it. The two hooded mergansers have the bushy brown head feathers.

This morning’s jump day had a ragged start followed by a long wait and then some drama for the last duckling.

  • There was rain this morning and the camera’s wifi signals are weak when they have to go through lots of wet leaves. This caused the cameras to stutter and freeze and you also saw lots of “buffering” notices. Also something technical went wrong that I fixed by restarting cameras and the wifi router. Sorry for the interruptions. Fortunately the restart fixed the tech issue and the leaves dried out before anything interesting happened.
  • The mother duck was very cautious about leaving. She spent many long minutes standing in the doorway looking and studying the area (she’s looking for predators that might harm her ducklings) then deciding not to go and dropping back into the nest for a while. Repeat. Repeat. I think she also gave her ducklings some extra time since they hatched kind of late in the day yesterday.
  • When she finally called them they all left quickly except for the last one (there’s always one) who had more trouble than usual finding the door. It kept jumping up at bright places where the sun was reflecting on the wrong side of the nest box, over and over again. Meanwhile the duck family went downstream. Finally the last one got it right and went down to the creek, peeping loudly. The mother called it and led her family back upstream as the little duck paddled down between a couple of mallard ducks that eyed it suspiciously … and they found each other!

I followed the duck family for a few minutes with my regular camera – frequently they go up into the tall grass along the creek to rest and hide for a while and I can’t find them. But today I got some stills (as above) and some good video of the them in the creek … so … I guess I’ll have to make yet another jump day video. It takes a while to do that. I’ll post here when it’s done, of course.

There were four unhatched eggs. Nine wood duck and two hooded merganser ducklings followed their mother out into the world.

Camera resets

Sorry for the interruptions. Some part of the camera system stopped working so I had to reset everything. Also it has rained here so the trees and bushes are wet and that can weaken wifi signals. That’s especially true for the creek-side camera, which is far away and down low behind lots of foliage. It is freezing, then running, then freezing again and there might not be much I can do to fix it.

South Jump Day cameras are ready

Three cameras are now online at the South nest. There are about 5 unhatched eggs. I hope none of the ducklings hatched late (too undeveloped and too weak to leave with the others) but that is possible today because eggs were added to this nest box by other ducks after incubation began for the rest. At least one of the two hooded merganser eggs has hatched: you can tell the hoodie ducklings apart from the wood ducks because hoodies have a bushy haircut and wood ducks have a black eye stripe through white on the side of their head.

Live cameras at

South: hatching now! West: 9 ducklings

Ducklings are hatching in the South nest box now: Monday May 29, 1:55pm CDT. They will jump Tuesday morning and once again I plan to have cameras in multiple places.

Nine ducklings went out into the world from the West nest box this morning at about 9:00 am. Cameras were active inside the nest box, looking at the nest from outside, and watching the creek. More details below.

West nest

The West nest duck family took an unusually long time to get started, the mother duck called her ducklings for several minutes before they responded. Once all 9 were out they went back into the ferns behind the nest box. A minute later the camera that was aimed at the creek seemed to show they were down in the water some distance away, but that was a brand new Mallard family that happened to be coming down the creek at the same time.

When the wood ducks went into the creek they were next to the Mallards and the two mother ducks had a brief flap-and-squawk battle; both were trying to protect their ducklings from a perceived danger. If you were watching the creek camera you saw it: the wood duck flapping and splashing and swimming fast in a circle right up to the creek camera and then circling back again to collect her ducklings. No harm done. A few minutes later we saw the wood duck family going upstream and then they could not be found again. It is not unusual for them to disappear like that; they often go up into tall grass and foliage along the creek bank to rest.

West Nest Jump Day

Ducklings will jump from the West nest box on Monday morning. There will be 3 live cameras:

  • West – inside the nest box
  • Outside – looking at the west nest box from outside
  • Creek – this camera is down at water level downstream from the west nest. They duck family will be visible here after leaving the view of the other cameras … IF they go downstream – a 50/50 chance.

    >> Other cameras will be offline temporarily to save upload bandwidth for these three.
    >> While they are climbing and jumping, try the two-camera view:

What to expect:

In the morning the mother duck will typically leave the ducklings and go off alone to get some breakfast for a half hour or hour. When she returns they usually all settle in for a while. The ducklings alternate between lots of practice jumping and climbing activity, and resting. When the duck decides it might be time to go she will jump up into the doorway and stay there for a long time, typically many minutes. She’s watching for anything that might harm the ducklings. Usually the first time she will decide it’s not quite right and drop back into the nest box to rest again. Once in a while she will go after the first look-around, but typically she will repeat this several times … while we wait.

But at some point she will decide it’s time to go. The earliest this has occurred here is 7:00 AM CDT, the latest was 2:00 PM, and typically it’s around 8:00 or 9:00. She’ll drop down below the nest box and start a special pulsing call that activates the ducklings. They peep loudly and jump and climb up to the door, and jump out. She keeps calling as long as she still hears peeping from the nest. Finally she’ll lead her ducklings down to the water and they swim off. They never return to the nest; they stay there for only their first night. 

A duck does not feed her ducklings; she takes them to where food can be found and they feed themselves. She shelters them at night hiding in tall grass or brush near the water. She will stay with her ducklings for about 2 months.