Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Would a Wood Duck do if a Wood Duck could duck....

Thanks to a tip from my Aunt Margaret who lives close by LaSalle Park in Burlington, I finally got to enjoy the bright, vibrant colours of a Wood Duck. (life bird #114) There was one lone male bravely holding its own among a large group of Mallard Ducks in small bay on the east side of the LaSalle marina.  Given that Wood Ducks usually are paired up by now, either the female wasn't visible, or this male hadn't been successful in courting this year.

Wood Duck holding off the Mallard Ducks.

My Aunt had let me know it was there the day before, and with the impending snow storm, I thought I'd better take advantage of the "normal" weather in case the duck decided to head out with the snow's approach for whatever reason.  The skies were overcast, which sometimes is a blessing for the lunch hour that I usually have to go out birding.  During the winter the sun is lower in the sky, so if it's behind you, it can be alright, but a top lit subject isn't as nice as a side lit one.  If the sun is too glaring, then an overcast sky can be the better compromise.  That's what I had, and nothing I could do about it.  But some sun would have really made this very colourful bird's plumage pop on the pictures more.

Male Wood Duck profile.

 Wood Ducks more typically frequent smaller lakes where swampy edges and shallow bottoms provide their cover.  They nest in tree cavities, or nesting boxes provided by conservationists or interested landowners.  That I know of, they are the only duck that nests off the ground.  Other water birds like Cormorants and Herons do, but I couldn't find mention of any other duck which doesn't build a water or ground level nest.

Wood Duck

Wood ducks will nest at varying heights in trees, which means that the ducklings have to get down to the water at some point, some times from great heights.  Different references all indicated that the ducklings jump out of the nest the day after they've hatched, sometimes falling as far as 100m from nest opening to the ground!  Besides being ready to swim that soon, they also are able to survive quite the sky dive on their second day of life!

Wood Duck

There were lots of ducks and other water birds there in both the smaller bays and outer, open water which was quite calm for a change.  Walking along the water's edge hearing the glass like tinkle of the ice chunks in the water I saw Mute and Trumpeter Swans, Mallards, Lesser and Greater Scaups, Bufflehead, Common Golden Eye, Common Mergansers, and a large group of White-winged Scoters.  I had only ever seen one White-winged Scoter before (last year) and I figure it was an immature female.  There were probably 50 or so of them of varying maturity this time.

male and immature White-winged Scoter
in front of male Greater Scaups.

You may have noticed in the picture above that the male Scoter has a radio tagging antenna protruding from its back.  It was the only one of the group that I saw that had one.

Trumpeter Swans yield way to male White-winged Scoters.

Splash remnants of a White-winged Scoter dive.

Radio tagged White-winged Scoter.

I was also tipped off by my Aunt of a Screech Owl down by the marina.  However, to continue my lack of success with now two Screech Owl locations, it decided not to let me have a look.  It was likely not out because it wasn't sunny.  This one is a grey Screech Owl, and the other one in the Woodland Cemetery is a red morph.  For now, I've seen neither one!  I'm hoping one of these days I'll get to see at least one of them.  For now I'll have to be patient and keep stopping in.

Thanks again Aunt Margaret for the tip!

1 comment:

  1. Great shots of the Wood Duck! Such a gorgeous duck :)


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