Remember that weblog I posted back in March, my run in with the two screech owls sleeping the day away in a wood duck box? Well, the highly anticipated sequel has just come out today; a mother wood duck with her 10 newly born ducklings.
Back in March, I installed a wood duck box along Crum Creek at Hildacy Farm. A site that was secluded enough for wood ducks to nest and a site that I had easy access to monitor (As seen above - view from the wood duck box). By April 18, I had my first record of a wood duck using the nest box, but no eggs. Not wanting to scare the pair away, I waited two weeks to check the nest again. Here is a picture of the nest taken on April 29.
I monitored the woodie's nest again on May 6. As I opened the clean out hatch, out flew the mother woodie squealing at me as she traveled down stream. Again, the nest had 10 eggs getting warmed up to be hatched. All the eggs hatch in the same day and the hen will keep her brood in the nest over night. By the time morning comes, the hen will fly out of the nest to the water below where she will call out softly. One by one, the day old ducklings will take the leap of faith (about 14 ft. in this case) from the nesting box. The hen will then lead them along the creek to safety.
I was really hoping to see this all happen, but I was a day late. I did however get a pictures of the ducklings just starting to crack out of their eggs. This picture was taken on May 13. I wanted to stick around to watch them hatch, but I knew this was not the time nor place for me to be. Here is a picture of the nest taken on May 15. All that remains are some downy feathers and a few egg shells.... for now. If you would like to learn more about these beautiful ducks, click here.