Jump day tomorrow May 19

Some sad news: this evening a Cooper’s hawk took both of the almost-fledged cardinal chicks. This is what Cooper’s hawks do: they eat other birds. So the hawk’s babies got a meal and the poor cardinals have to start over. Nature can be so harsh.

Outside cameras:
I just finished setting up outside cameras on both the South and West nests. To do this I suspended the East nest camera temporarily: it will be back after tomorrow, and I am also now using the channel formerly used for the cardinal camera. So these are the 4 cameras now:

  • West nest (wood ducks)
  • West nest outside
  • South nest (hooded mergansers)
  • South nest outside

The mergansers probably will leave early since they hatched early today. The wood ducks hatched hours later and thus will probably leave later, but my guesses are not always what they do. The wood ducks do look ready-to-go tonight, so I’m pretty sure they will jump tomorrow, not Thursday.

Jump day – What to expect: (typical)

The hen will leave for an hour or so to get some breakfast. When she returns she will rest for a while. The ducklings will alternate between hopping around and climbing and practice-jumping, and napping. Eventually the hen will jump up into the doorway and sit there, studying the area for predators that might harm her ducklings. Sometimes she will watch for 10 minutes, or even more. Usually she is not satisfied with the first inspection and after a while she will drop back into the nest. Sometimes she repeats this many times. But once in while a hen will look just once, for not very long, will like what she sees, and will get on with it.

The earliest they’ve jumped is about 7:00, the latest: 1:00pm.

Once she decides to go she will drop down below the nest and start a special soft pulsing call. This activates the ducklings. They peep loudly and start jumping and climbing up to the door (more or less), and then they perch for a moment, or longer, and jump out and down. Often it takes only a couple of minutes and they’ve all jumped. Sometimes longer. When all of the ducklings are out – which she can tell because there is no more loud peeping coming from the nest – she will take them into the water and often will swim away with them downstream.

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