East nest: 12 ducklings jumped today

12 ducklings left the East nest box at 8:20 this morning. There was one unhatched egg.

I had 3 cameras set up but I turned off the creek camera (before the ducklings jumped) because the other two were not streaming well, and that helped. Later I turned the creek camera back on and the duck family was visible and nearby – I hope you were able to watch them.

I’ll write a year-end report later. For now, all of the nest boxes are empty so the cameras are off … unless something happens. Sometimes another round of nesting occurs.

Heading out!

Ducklings! Jump day tomorrow

Some of the ducklings in the East nest have now hatched but there are also intact eggs visible so some are still on the way. They will jump from the nest box tomorrow morning. I have 3 cameras set up: nest box, outside on a nearby tree looking down at the box this time instead of up from below, and one camera down by the creek where they will enter the water. They cameras are live now at birdsgv.com.

Below I’ve repeated the “what to expect” information that I’ve posted before.

My brother sent a screen shot of this strange invader that got into the nest box yesterday. (I’ll contact the Addam’s family to see if perhaps someThing got away from them.)

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.

East nest hatching soon

When I checked the eggs in the East nest today most of them were pipped (slightly broken) which is something the ducklings do 24 to 48 hours before they hatch. They were all smooth and unbroken yesterday, so I expect they will hatch sometime tomorrow (Monday) or probably tomorrow night. If they hatch tomorrow during the day then they could jump from the nest box on Tuesday morning. I’d say it’s more likely they will hatch later, perhaps overnight, and jump day will then be Wednesday morning. But they do really like to mess with my predictions.

Whenever it occurs, I’ll have an outside camera online then, and maybe another one down by the creek too.

The West nest has been quiet lately after nine wood duck ducklings left on May 29th. The South nest’s ducklings, 9 woodies and 2 mergansers, jumped the next day on the 30th to follow their wood duck mother out and away. But since then the South nest has been visited daily by both a wood duck and a hooded merganser female. They have stayed only for about 3 minutes on each day and it’s not likely that they are serious about nesting there … but … maybe? We’ve had 2 rounds of nesting in other years.

A hooded merganser visited the South nest today at 8:20am. She looks much different vs. a wood duck: she has a long slender bill and no white on the face.

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.