Redoubled Double Ducks

Two ducks were together in the west nest box again today. I made a new, 2 minute video about them. (For email subscribers: here’s a link to the video at YouTube, in case it doesn’t show up for you within this message. )

Once again two ducks were peacefully, even affectionately, together in the west nest box today for about a half hour.

The west nest hen has started to feather her nest. This means she’s getting ready to incubate fairly soon. There are 9 eggs under there.

Finally, for those who have subscribed and receive postings via email: Yesterday’s post had very tiny photos in it as shown by some email programs where it was difficult to enlarge them. My apology – I’ll try not to do that again. If you want to see larger photos, here is a link to yesterday’s posting at the web site.

Double Double Ducks

Yesterday two ducks were together in each of the two of the nest boxes, east and west. It isn’t unusual for two or more ducks to lay eggs in the same nest (for more about this, here’s a link) and sometimes they do that even when the other duck is there. In that case it is common for a battle of hissing and neck biting and shaking to occur as one tries to make the other one leave.

The resident hen (the one who has claimed the nest and perhaps is already incubating) does almost all of the biting and fighting. The invader who wants to leave an egg usually tries to just stay on top of the resident and even pin her down for a while, to avoid her bite-y part I think. The resident stays low to keep her nest-claiming advantage. The fight can look fierce; however I’ve never seen blood or injury, nor even many feathers pulled out. Here are two videos that I made in 2019 that show this: .

  • “Invasion Video – 4/18/2019” – 90 seconds: from both inside and outside of the nest box
  • Wood duck MMA” – 7 minutes: the longest battle I’ve seen. It ends with the invader leaving an egg despite being continually harassed by the resident hen. Then she leaves and the resident hen pulls the other duck’s egg into the clutch.

Once in a while they don’t fight but settle down together for a while. What was unusual yesterday when the pair in the west nest did that is they were so VERY still: not even a blink, for many minutes. I thought the camera had frozen until careful watching revealed slight motion: mostly just dust particles drifting along with a tiny bit of breathing motion from the ducks. They stayed that way, absolutely still in the pose shown by the first photo below, for many minutes.

There are now 8 merganser eggs in the south nest and also 8 wood duck eggs in the west nest where the two wood ducks were so still yesterday. Two were in the west nest together once again today for just a few minutes; probably the same two (I wish they had name tags). It’s likely that both have contributed to the 8 wood duck eggs. There still are no eggs in the east nest. (Note: if you happened to look for the east camera yesterday evening and today, it was offline and reported as “not broadcasting” because I pulled it out to try to improve it. Its focus seemed a bit soft so I changed the camera’s “reading glasses” (see this link) to a different prescription.

Probably more for my records – I’ve never actually kept track before – rather than your interest, here is a table that adds to the one in the previous posting:

DateEast (wood ducks)West (wood ducks)South (merganser)
Friday 4/98:10 – 4 minutes6:33 – 40 minutes
8:27 – 35 minutes
3:00 PM – 90 minutes
Saturday 4/107:29 – 3 minutes6:30 – 45 minutes
8:28 – 4 minutes
8:54 – 30 minutes
10:04 – wood duck – 5 minutes
Sunday 4/118:43 – 6 minutes
8:44 – 2 minutes
Two ducks together
6:15 – 75 minutes
6:45 – 23 minutes
Two ducks together
8:55 – 8 minutes
6:17 – 2 hours + 50 minutes
Monday 4/12— camera offline6:36 – 1 hour + 50minutes
7:43 – 12 minutes
Two ducks together
2:50 – 3 hours + 15 minutes

5, 2, and none so far

A wood duck in the west nest box on Wednesday. Iiridescent feathers!

The merganser in the south nest has layed another egg almost every day and has 5. A wood duck has also started to lay in the West nest, providing 2 eggs so far. The east nest has had many brief visits but so far it has no eggs.

They do such a good job covering up when they leave: you can’t tell that anything has happened.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s easy for me to review the activity since the cameras record only when there is motion and the viewing software shows a timeline of the recordings. I started a table of the visits and durations in my previous post and have added to it here. All times are Central Daylight Time (CDT).

DateEast (wood ducks)West (wood ducks)South (merganser)
Sunday 3/287:50 – 3 minutes
Monday 3/298:30 – 12 minutes8:00 – 10 minutes
Tuesday 3/30
Wednesday 3/317:22 – 8 minutes
Thursday 4/17:16 – 3 minutes
8:27 – 8 minutes
Friday 4/27:30 – 10 minutes8:30 – 80 minutes (1st egg)
Saturday 4/37:50 – 7 minutes6:40 – 120 minutes (2nd egg)
Sunday 4/48:05 – 4 minutes4:10 PM – 35 minutes
Monday 4/58:54 – 5 minutes8:30 – 8 minutes
Tuesday 4/66:42 – 40 minutes7:00 to 8:00, then 8:20 to 8:30
70 minutes
Wednesday 4/79:55 – 90 minutes8:00 PM – 60 minutes
Thursday 4/87:16 – 3 minutes8:55 – 80 minutes6:45 – 75 minutes (5th egg)

The Mergansers are Back!

This morning a hooded merganser hen deposited her first egg in the South nest box. This is almost certainly the same one that raised eleven ducklings there last spring. A duck that successfully raises a family will often return to the same nest site the next year. But it is particularly probable because she did almost no “house hunting”. Her only previous visit was for just 10 minutes on Monday morning, then her next visit was this morning and she moved in like she owned the place. She stayed for an hour and 20 minutes (8:30 to 9:50).

She moved aside very briefly and here is the best image that was recorded:

(Her bill is pointed down and that light spot is the back of her crest catching the light.) During the time she’s laying the male waits nearby. Typically the first notice we get to check a camera is when we see a male duck just paddling around in the creek or sitting somewhere all by himself, doing nothing, just waiting nearby. The male and female stay together until all of the eggs are layed and she starts incubation. Then he’s done and goes off to enjoy the summer, hanging out with the other guys. She then does ALL of the incubating for a month, followed by about 2 months of child care.

East and West Nest boxes

Here’s the activity in the other nest boxes in the past few days. All are wood duck visits. As you can see, they typically don’t spend much time in the nest in the early days when they are looking at possible nesting sites.

East NestSunday 3/287:50 – 7:53 (3 minutes)
East NestMonday 3/298:30 – 8:42 (12 minutes)
West NestWednesday 3/317:22 – 7:30 (8 minutes)
East NestThursday April 17:16 – 7:19 (3 minutes)
East NestThursday April 18:27 – 8:35 (8 minutes)

Hooded Merganser Jump Day 2020

It took almost a year, but I’ve finally uploaded a new video about the eleven hooded merganser ducklings that jumped on May 19th, 2020. We’ve had many wood duck families here but this was the first and so far the only time that a hooded merganser chose to raise her ducklings in one of our camera nest boxes.

The last several minutes include a section where the children who live in the house near the nest box run out to see the new ducks, another where I ran along the creek down to where there is some rapid water and managed to catch up to them and capture a few seconds. Then at the end they had gone beyond the point where I could follow along on the creek bank so I circled around through streets to get farther downstream and searched for almost an hour before finally discovering the place where they had stopped in some quiet water, and there I got my closing video clip. The video is just over 15 minutes long. I hope you enjoy it!