Today I went for a walk in the woods. To improve my chances of finding interesting feathered friends, I chose a woods with a creek down the middle. As I began my ramble, I looked back upstream. Through the morning gloom I could just make out the dull green gleam of a male duck’s head from a pair of sleeping beauties. Mallards, I thought dismissively. Then my conscience nagged me and I lifted my lens to take a photo. (Photos help me record what I saw on ebird.org.) Imagine my excitement when I saw this green duck had vivid white lines on its head. This duck in the woods wasn’t a mallard at all.
Unlike some other ducks, Wood Ducks are well named. They like to live in waterways in the woods. They nest in trees. They are one of the ducks most often carved out of wood for collectors.
This pair might just be migrating visitors to the park but with luck they may be here to stay. While I was standing a bit downstream, waiting for the ducks to swim to meet me, I looked around and noticed a well used bird house hammered to a tree nearby. It was the right size and height for a wood duck home. So I’ll have to come back here again during the summer and see if there is a family to follow up on.
The last time I saw a gorgeous male Wood Duck he was surrounded by a flock of ravenous mallards and all of the birds were wolfing down stale bread tossed from a visitor’s car. Today’s ducks were more rewarding. They were shy, serene until I was spotted, then they swiftly swam upstream. My photos may be somewhat out of focus but my sense of satisfaction is immeasurably greater.
Notice the female is a beauty in her own right. Her eyes are black not red, but they’re rimmed with gold. The shimmering colours in her wings are subtle but entrancing. He apparently thought so too, for whenever she swam, he was quick to follow!
Do you like Wood Ducks? Have you seen a video (or real live action!) of the ducklings plummeting out of their nest to the ground below? Please share your experiences with a comment.