When I was making supper, a movement outside the window caught my eye. I stopped and took a closer look and was startled to see a duck walking up and down on the newly fallen tree trunk in the yard. I rushed to get my camera and took a few photos of her. Unfortunately, the photographs, shot through the window screen, aren’t very clear, but I was pleased to get a record.
It’s a female Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). Wood Ducks are so named because they prefer flooded forests or swamps and nest in trees. Until 1800, Wood Ducks were among the most abundant waterfowl in eastern North America. The arrival of colonists changed all that and the slaughter of unregulated hunting, deforestation, and wetland drainage decimated the population, reducing numbers to the verge of extinction. Legal protection, enacted in 1916, reversed the trend and Wood Ducks began a long, slow recovery. Now, nearly 100 years later, Wood Ducks are once again common.
It was clear that the duck was checking out the log as a possible nesting site. I was charmed to think of her sharp eyes catching sight of the newly fallen log as she and her mate cruised the little river that flows by the house. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a suitable spot, so close to the house and driveway. No privacy! She quickly came to this conclusion and returned to her exceedingly handsome mate, who was waiting patiently on the river while she did her househunting. Maybe next year, I’ll try to have a nest box ready.