Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Shy show-offs

Wood ducks are cavity nesters. They're cautious birds; they choose well-hidden holes, high in old-growth trees, where they can incubate their eggs out of the reach and sight (mostly) of predators. Since we've cut down the old forests, it's a good thing that they easily accept our substitutes. In the central aisles of Reifel Island Bird Sanctuary, where the trees provide good cover, the staff has put up nest boxes for them. These are easily identified; they're big boxes, at least 2 feet tall, surrounded by foliage, high in the trees beside the water.

This weekend we saw several pairs hanging out near their selected boxes.

The male has dramatic red eyes.

And the female wears white eye liner.

"Hurry, hurry!"

Against the light, they make a striking silhouette.

Couples pair up in January, begin nesting from February to March, and the chicks hatch after about 30 days. Then they jump from these high nests to the ground, and head for the water on foot. A freshly-hatched wood duck ducking can jump almost 90 metres without injury!

We should be seeing families in a few weeks.


  1. You got some wonderful photos! We see ours mostly on the pond and up under the birdfeeder tree eating seeds. :)

  2. swooning. SO BEAUTIFUL! My husband calls them Chinese ducks 'cause they look like some elaborate, exaggeratedly beautiful Chinese art. Great pics!

    I got this shot of one at the SD zoo, and then made it my Facebook profile pic. =) http://biobabbler.blogspot.com/2010/11/tiny-ice-skating-rinks.html

    If ONLY I were that beautiful! =)

  3. Fascinating to see these beautiful ducks in trees. I have so far only had the good fortune to see them swimming but will keep an eye out now for those that are nesting. Thanks for the great photographs and info!

  4. So lovely to see such great photos of these gorgeous birds! They disappeared from DC this fall/winter, but I spotted a female hanging out with the mallards in the zoo's flamingo exhibit today, so they may be returning here as well. What wonderful harbingers of spring!


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