The East nest hen went out for supper so there was a clear view of the ducklings. Six have hatched (yay!) and, as expected, there are three unhatched eggs. They will jump from the nest box tomorrow, typically in the morning sometime between 7am and 11am.
The six ducklings at about 6:00 pm (Note: This camera is not working at 100%; it seems to have resolution issues with color images but it will have to do until next time; I can’t replace it now.)
I have set up two outside cameras. One is in front of the nest box and the other is just down the bank from there with a view of the creek. Both are active now if you use the “Live Cameras” button at the birdsgv.com site. (If you are already watching and don’t see the new cameras use your browsers “Reload” function.)
What to expect tomorrow:
The hen will sometimes leave early for a last breakfast without ducklings to watch. If so she’ll come back in a half hour or so. The ducklings will alternate between periods of activity – climbing and jumping practice – and resting.
When the hen decides it might be time to go, she will jump up into the doorway. She will watch for a while, sometimes many minutes, looking for predators that would harm her ducklings. Once in a while she will look just one time and then go, but often she will not be ready on the first look and will drop back into the nest box to rest for a while longer. Sometimes this repeats many times. When she finally decides everything is okay she will drop down below the nest and start to call the ducklings. Her sound is a soft pulsing call, the same sound that she has been using in the nest box. The ducklings are activated by this call and begin to peep loudly, and to jump and climb up to the doorway. They jump from there down to the ground. It doesn’t hurt them. They will gather around the hen and she will continue to call as long as she still hears loud peeping from the nest box. When all of the ducklings are out, she will lead them down into the creek bank. Sometimes they will rest there out of sight. Often she will take them into the creek and they will move on.
Usually it takes only a minute or two between when she starts calling and when the nest is empty.