After many (10?) long and slow looks around followed by dropping back into the nest box and deciding not to go, the West nest duck finally called her ducklings and they went on their way at about 11:00 today. There were two unhatched eggs.
The family stayed in the creek behind our house for a while so I was able to get some photos and video. I do plan to make a wood duck video this year, combining the best parts of all four of the hatchings this spring:
May 2nd – 9 wood ducks – West nest box
May 16th – 12 wood ducks – East nest box
May 19th – 11 hooded mergansers – South nest box
June 23rd – 16 wood ducks – West nest box
So this is it for 2020: the ducks are done nesting for this year and I’ve shut down all of the cameras. I will post here again of course when I have put this year’s video online.
Thanks for watching and for all of the good comments here, via email, and on my Youtube videos. This has been fun!
Two cameras are now live for West nest jump day tomorrow morning. For links to the West nest inside camera and an Outside camera go to my main web page as usual:
Scroll down to just below the images/buttons that link to the cameras for some bullet items that provide tips about using them
Note: some people have been confused by the new-this-year video ad that plays very briefly before the video from a duck camera starts. There is no bypass for the ad but it is only a few seconds long. Play the ad and when it finishes, carefully touch/click the word “>> continue” that appears.
Ducklings are hatching today in the West nest box. They’re right on schedule but actually this kind of snuck up on me. I wasn’t able to check yesterday and expected hatching to be tomorrow, but instead they should be jumping from the nest box tomorrow morning. I’ll have the outside camera set up by then, as usual.
The West nest duck is incubating 18 eggs. That’s down from 19 because I removed one that was undeveloped. I’ll start checking just before the earliest expected hatch date (June 23 +/- 3 days) and of course I will post a message when there is any change.
The South and East cameras are now offline until next year because ducks are not visiting these nest boxes now. The West camera is the only one that is active although as usual I will set up an Outside camera on jump day.
If you happened to check the East nest camera during recent weeks you may have seen the duck that was “incubating” there, but she was doing something we have never seen before. At first she acted just like she was laying eggs, settling into the nest for a couple of hours each day … but no eggs. Then she began to feather the nest and built up a thick blanket of down, and for about a week she stayed in the nest overnight and for most of each day too. That is very typical incubation behavior … but again, no eggs were in the nest.
One guess is that she lost her nest site due to human or other activity but all of the hormonal and instinctive behavior was still running and she played it out here. Whatever the reason, her instinct to make a nest and start incubation was very active for about two weeks even though she had no eggs at all. About a week ago she stopped and has not come back.
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.