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.

7 thoughts on “South ducklings out and away!”

  1. Thanks for providing this annual event Paul! Still loving it as I’m sure you are as well.

  2. Thank you so much for doing this, it’s brought me so much joy the last week. I thought to myself this morning, waiting for the jumps, this is like my own Superbowl! Into birds, not football 😂

  3. Apparently the merganser babies imprint on the woodie mother, but when they grow up, seek mates among mergansers rather than woodies. Does anyone know if this is the case?

    1. They do grow up knowing what species they are. Wood ducks and hooded mergansers are different in many ways, but they have identical incubation times and their feeding habits are close enough so that ducklings survive with a different species taking care of them. They have learned this somehow and use it to their advantage. For more about this see my web site, scroll down, and follow the “Ducks Info” link. Then read the topic called “Dumping” – really – that’s the biologist’s name for it when a duck puts an egg into some other duck’s nests.

    1. In the wild any unhatched eggs cool off and the duckling dies (if there is a duckling – sometimes an egg is infertile). What happens in thousands of completely wild wood duck nests happens here too: these are wild birds and the only significant difference is the camera that lets us see what happens. For more about this use the “Ducks Info” button (scroll down) at my web site, That information includes a link to a page specifically about unhatched or worse, late ducklings that hatch but are not developed enough to follow the family on jump day. Here’s a direct link to that page: Finally, there is a video that I made about one duckling who does get rescued: again at the web site use the “Links to the Videos” button (scroll down to find it) and then look for the video called “Little Woodie’s First Day”.

  4. This was so fun to watch.
    Thank you for providing this 🙂
    I was worried for that last duckling, worried that it would be left behind. I was rooting for it to find the right area to jump. I was even pointing to the screen saying “No baby, over here.. jump over here”.
    I am so glad that it was reunited with it’s family 🥰

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