[mou] Wood ducks

Steve Weston sweston2@comcast.net
Wed, 11 Apr 2007 02:15:25 -0500

this is the time of the year that skiddish Wood Ducks have me skulking about 
my house.  Walking past the window in my living room  will often flush a 
pair or two of Woodies from the trees in my back yard.  A count on Friday 
morning had at least 23 Wood Ducks and two pairs of Hooded Mergansers 
visible from my window.  But, only a small part of Quiggley Lake is visible. 
We have four wood duck houses in the back yard and another in the front.  On 
Saturday I found two eggs in one of the two houses that were easy to check. 
I wonder how they will fare in the freeze.  I suspect that it may be too 
cold for them to survive.

Last year we had two or three clutches hatch from the back yard.  While I 
don't remember the numbers and will not check my records tonight, one clutch 
had about 17 of about 26 eggs hatch.  A single hen can lay between 6 and 15 
eggs (Ehrlich).  We have both Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers nesting in 
our boxes.  I have seen both visiting the same box.  And even in the same 
box similtaneous.   Mixed broods are not uncommon.  I was told be a man who 
studied Wood Ducks for many years, that if a Wood Duck hen leads a mixed 
brood out, the Hoodies will almost immediately strike out on their own. 
But, if a Hoody hen leads the mixed brood out, they will not seperate.  We 
have seen small creches of two or three Hoody chicks on our lake that seemed 
to raise themselves with no adult interaction observed.  They actually 
appear to be more successful than the Woody clutches which  we believe 
suffer from high levels of predation (snapping turtles?).

Paul Ehrlich et. al in "The Birder's Handbook"   describes the Wood Duck as 

Steve Weston on Quiggley Lake in Eagan, MN