From the Wild Side: Wood Ducks at Lynden

May 31, 2014

From the Wild Side is a recurring feature on our blog. Author Bob Retko has been on the staff at Lynden since 1966.

Photo: Robert Retko

Above is a photo that I took this morning of a hen wood duck in one of our wood duck nest boxes. She started incubating in early May and, as you can see in the photo, it appears that the ducklings are in the process of hatching. After hatching they will remain in the box for about a day. The hen will then leave the box and check the surroundings for predators. When she has determined the area is safe, she will call to the brood. The ducklings will respond to her call by climbing up the wall of the nest box and one by one jumping from the entrance hole. They will drop to the ground, sometimes from a high nest cavity in a tree. When the nest is over dry land the ducklings often bounce and are not harmed by the fall.

Once the ducklings have left the nest box the hen will assemble the brood and lead them to water where food and cover are abundant. The ducklings will not return the nest box, unless they return as adults in following years to incubate a clutch of eggs.

At Lynden, once out of the nest box, a wood duck hen and her ducklings may only stay on our ponds for a day or two at the maximum. The hens generally find other waters that have better overhead cover to protect from predators.

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