Merganser video & East nest again

Bad streaming this morning: The streaming was not good for the hooded merganser’s jump from the nest box today. Some kind of network slowdown caused the live video to frequently freeze and stutter and the cameras were very much out of sync: e.g. one of them 30 seconds behind the other. (Of course a while after the mergansers jumped all three cameras were running smoothly with only one second of time difference.) I made a video of this morning’s event to compensate, see below.

There is a wood duck laying in the East nest box! As of this evening she has 3 eggs. I’ve turned on the East nest box camera again. Events there are a bit strange. She heavily feathered the nest for a week without adding any eggs at all. Normally the feathers go in after laying is done. For a while I thought she had nesting instinct with no eggs. We’ve seen that before and typically the duck gives up after a week or so of incubating nothing. It is not clear what will happen in the East nest, but I hope there will be another round of ducklings there. We’ve had 7 instances in the past where a nest box was used twice. There’s a summary for each nest box on the main birdsgv.com page

Two mergansers! Two little hooded merganser ducklings followed their mother out into the wild this morning. Their video is 3 1/2 minutes long.

I expected that all 9 eggs would hatch since they were all in the nest when incubation started, but there were 7 unhatched and un-pipped eggs. I candled the seven and all had developed; that is, they were not infertile. But there were no signs of life. I don’t know why.

Freezing video

I am watching the same stream that you see. This morning there is a lot of stuttering video. I’ve tried resetting various things (thus the complete dropouts that you’ve sometimes seen) and now it’s a bit better than it was earlier so I’m leaving it as-is.

Right now, 6:45 CDT, momma duck is out having breakfast.

Mergansers leaving Wednesday AM

It appears that only two hooded merganser ducklings hatched, leaving 7 unhatched eggs. Quite unusual. The mother duck will wait for good daylight to call her ducklings to leave because she wants to be able to see and avoid predators and dangers. But she might not wait too long because her ducklings will be out of the egg for at least 24 hours in the early morning on Wednesday and they will be ready to go; perhaps early. Then again, she might wait for a while too. What is likely is that when she does start to call them it will be over quickly – just two of them to jump.

I have 3 cameras set up. I’ll activate the that is just outside the nest box in the very early morning. The other two (inside the nest box, and on the creek) are already live.

I hope you can watch and that they do a good job of staying within camera view for at least a few minutes.

Two+? Mergansers have hatched!

This morning I was startled to see merganser ducklings in the South nest box!. Yesterday morning when I checked, two of the eggs were slightly cracked (pipped) but the other seven were completely smooth and unbroken. Pipped eggs are a sign that hatching will occur within 24 to 48 hours. In the past some eggs have always shown this indication before others, but I expected others to show this sign today and maybe all hatch tonight. I saw the eggs yesterday evening and none had hatched then.

All 9 eggs were in the nest when incubation so they’ve had the same development time. Thus I doubt that the others are late; perhaps the other 7 are infertile.

Another guess – lots of guessing – is that they will jump tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. Every time in the past when ducklings hatch overnight they have spent another night in the nest before leaving and in many years of watching I’ve never seen them leave except in the morning. If so I’ll have the outside camera set up then. But … we’ll see; the ducklings look strong already.

Even after years of observation, they still catch me by surprise.

Raccoon Inside!

The merganser in the South nest started to incubate almost a month ago. She had 11 eggs: 10 merganser and 1 wood duck egg. Her ducklings are due any day soon although the eggs showed no sign of hatching this morning. There were no “pipped” (slightly broken) shells.

Two days ago I discovered that the wood duck egg that was in the merganser nest had simply disappeared. No sign of it. No shell, nothing. Then this morning we found out why: a raccoon had figured out how to get into the nest and last night it got another egg: one of the merganser eggs.

The raccoon barrier was bent and had slipped down. It has now been replaced by a bigger, stronger, and tightly fastened barrier that should stop the raccoon. So there are now 9 merganser eggs that should hatch in the next few days.

I made a video from the camera’s recordings. The raccoon is inside for about 14 minutes but that’s been edited down since there isn’t much to see then except its back. However squeezing that fat little raccoon body in through the little duck-sized hole and back out again is … something. I didn’t think it was possible but this is a small, young raccoon and it just … barely … fits.

(7 minutes)