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.
The mergansers are due any day soon, but not tomorrow, because when I checked all of the eggs this morning none of them were pipped. I’ll keep checking each day and will let you know when I have a jump day guesstimate.
It took three tries – jumping up to the door to look around and then going back in – before she finally chose to go. It was a typical (and typically cute!) jump day. There will be a video in the near future, see “Video 2020” below.
But it was not a typical night-before-jump-day:
At about midnight something scared her out of the nest box. She flew off into the dark with ducklings left behind and she did not return until dawn. We were worried, but the ducklings were old enough (hours old!) to huddle together and stay warm on a cool night until she returned, and they all seemed fine when she finally got back.
Something has been spooking the ducks at night lately. Both the East and South nest box hens have left suddenly in the night two times each. I think we have a predator hunting the area that has not been successful due to very fast and strong (and scared) ducks. I made a video of one of the events and it includes my idea about what it might be!
I have video clips from both West nest jump day back on May 2nd, and also the East nest yesterday. But the mergansers are due to jump any day soon too so I think this year I’ll put together a compilation video of all of them.
A wood duck visits almost every day and when I checked yesterday there were five eggs in the nest box. The more eggs there are, the more likely it is that she will start incubating and we will have another round of baby ducks.