July 4th ducklings

The west nest hen started incubating 10 eggs on about the 4th so they should hatch sometime around Independence Day. I think the eggs are mostly or even all hers because we didn’t notice any other ducks dumping eggs in that nest and 8 to 14 is a normal number for one hen. We do still see adult ducks in the creek and the yard but their nest-seeking activity has nearly disappeared as it always does this time of year.

(I was wearing gloves because I was doing garden work, but that and/or washing afterwards is a good thing to do.)

However a duck has been in the east nest box for a half hour on some days in the past week and has now laid two eggs there. She wasn’t there at all today but it’s possible she’ll be there tomorrow and there’s still a chance that this nest will also have another round of ducklings – or she might not finish. The next few days will provide the answer.

These hens might simply be late in getting started, but also if a wood duck loses her brood she may try again in the same spring season. Reasons she might lose them include a raccoon getting into the nest and eating all of the eggs or ducky-disasters such as the nest tree falling, a flood carrying all of the ducklings away, or heavy predation that takes all of the ducklings.

Fortunately those are rare, but wood duck duckling mortality averages nearly 50% during the first 6 weeks. That is one reason they have evolved to have such large broods.

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