Category Archives: Duck

Three Wood Duck Ducklings

A mother Wood Duck usually stays with her ducklings until they are grown to near adult size, the “teen age” stage. The males are sometimes around but don’t seem to supervise the young the way I’ve seen the females herd their charges around.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

No adult was in sight for these three ducklings and I suspect the mother became lunch for a predator. The survival rate for the ducklings is low and the adults can fall victim to alligators, hawks, or eagles. These three were sticking together, swimming around the pond to various perches.  As plant eaters these ducklings don’t rely on the parent bringing food, they just eat what is around them.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

This board they are settled on is an Alligator ramp that has been slowly sinking into the pond over the last year.

Three Wood Duck Ducklings
Three Wood Duck Ducklings

The surface of the pond is covered with a mixture of green Duck Weed  and some variation of Mosquito Fern, the red plant. Zoom in on the closer image of the dragonfly perched on the surface to see the plants in more detail.

Dragonfly on Duck Weed and Mosquito Fern
Dragonfly on Duck Weed and Mosquito Fern

Wood Duck Family

The oldest Wood Duck chicks on the pond right now are almost indistinguishable from their mothers.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

This old alligator platform gets smaller every week, either sinking or rotting into the pond. This small family squeezes together on it to groom and soak up the afternoon sun.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

From the end of the pond you get a view of the platform with the sun glaring off the duckweed. In silhouette you can see mother duck standing a little taller and with more head feathers than her four youngsters. She had turned just a bit to see which way I was headed.

Wood Duck Family
Wood Duck Family

Wood Ducks in Cypress Swamp

Perched on a log a group of male Wood Ducks were just hanging around, doing some stretching.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck Stretching

At least three were lined up on this log and a few more were in the water behind this clump of trees.

Wood Duck
Wood Ducks

Time for a swim, one by one they took to the water.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck

There is an open pond at the edge of the cypress swamp and this fellow was going off on his own.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck on Pond

Taking the Leap

Undecided, this Wood Duck drake paced on top of the nesting box. Were there hatchlings inside about to pop out? Was he waiting for a mate? Questions I never got the answers to.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Eventually he took a plunge off the side.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Splash down!

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down

A short paddle took him back to the box. He spent some time contemplating his next move under the protection of some overhanging branches.

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down

Wood Duck With Chicks

Mama Wood Duck and her brood posed for a family portrait on one of the new alligator ramps installed around the rice field. I counted fourteen chicks while they were sitting still, but some were snoozing with their heads down so there may have been more. All About Birds says their clutch can have up to sixteen eggs.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

A Common Gallinule was doing his best to photo bomb the portrait, paddling along behind them. I waited, hoping he would move along.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

He did, but Mama felt it was time to move on, too, and they all bailed off in one fluid motion off the side of the ramp away from me.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

Back and Forth

Well, what else do they have to do? When they aren’t eating ducks often swim around, and perhaps the female was testing to see if the male would follow. He did.

Wood Duck Pair
Wood Duck Pair

This Wood Duck pair went back and forth in front of me several times, never quite making it into the sun patch closer to me before they disappeared with the Teals around the corner.

Wood Duck Pair
Wood Duck Pair

 

Hooded Mergansers

The Hooded Mergansers tend to be shy and I usually see them retreating shortly after I spot them. I happened to be sitting on a low wall watching a pond when these two swam by me, close enough to get a shot.

Hooded Merganser Female
Hooded Merganser Female – click image for larger view

The brown reeds and grasses of late winter made a golden glow on the water, a nice complement to these gorgeous ducks. The male is certainly flashier, especially when he has his hood up, but the female is an understated beauty.

Hooded Merganser Male
Hooded Merganser Male – click image for larger view

2/5/2018

Ring-necked Duck

Three Ring-necked Ducks were paddling along an impoundment at Vierra Wetlands in the late afternoon. Yes, the ring is hard to see.  A quick read at Cornell’s All About Birds reveals that the name was provided by 19th century biologists who were examining dead specimens so had a different view of the chestnut collar than those of us observing the bird in the field.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck

“Golden Eye” would have fit for a name, but might already have been spoken for at the time. Or a name that described the white outlined beak.  No matter the name he is quite a pretty bird.

Ring-necked Duck
Ring-necked Duck

The male duck was accompanied by a female and a juvenile that didn’t venture far from each other.

Ring-necked Duck Family
Ring-necked Ducks

Vierra Wetlands, Brevard County, Florida, 1/27/2018