Lots of ducks

The wood ducks are finally here in larger numbers today. There were 9 this morning: 1 in the west nest and 4 pairs in the yard. They were house hunting …

… but so far we haven’t seen any wood ducks inside the west nest except the hen who clearly has claimed this place as her own.

The west nest duck has visited nearly every day, staying for longer and longer each day. She had nine eggs early this afternoon and I think today she has started to incubate! She’s been plucking down for a couple of days, was on the nest most of the day today, the eggs were warm when I checked them, and she is there right now (7:30pm) as it’s getting dark. If she stays, this would be the first day of incubation and jump day would be approximately April 28th.

Both nests were occupied for a little while on the morning of March 30th, as shown by this screen shot of a phone app image. As of today there is one egg in the east nest (top) and nine (maybe 10?) are in the west: the bottom picture is the hen who has claimed the west nest box.

Other visitors:

A pair of hooded mergansers has been in the creek a couple of times with the male doing his mating display and then both doing what comes after that too. The female hooded merganser was in the west nest a few days ago (while it was empty) but she only stayed for a few minutes and did not leave an egg.

We also saw a very odd duck in the creek: furry instead of feathered, with a long rat-like tail, and swimming down in the water instead of floating on top:

It’s a muskrat – look at how the water beads up on his fur. (3 images)

Finally, here is a link to an animated GIF (40MB) made from a series of 20 images taken on March 28th. It shows a duck flying from the roof of the east nest down into the doorway. If you’ve wondered how they can possibly transition from flying with wings spread to diving into that small opening, have a look.

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