Archive for April 14th, 2009

Two Ducks in a Tree


On Sunday, RailGuy looked out the kitchen window and was surprised to see two ducks, sitting in the tree by the river. Ducks? In a tree? Yes, when they’re Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa). These medium-sized ducks, a bit smaller than the more common Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), are considered by many to be the most beautiful of the North American ducks. They are classed as perching ducks and nest in cavities in trees near water. (They are not alone in this. In Canada, Common Goldeneyes, Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Buffleheads and Hooded Mergansers also nest in tree cavities.) Wood Duck breeding habitat includes swamps and ponds in wooded areas. Several pairs have been cruising the river north of the house and they are perhaps attracted by some of the large trees along the river bank.

Wood Ducks have been popular game birds and were heavily hunted in the 19th century, resulting in severely depressed population numbers by 1900. After a prohibition of hunting in the first half of the 20th century, numbers rebounded and are considered relatively secure now. Conservation efforts have included the protection of habitat and the provision of nest boxes. Although Wood Ducks are not uncommon, I hadn’t seen one in the wild until moving to Willow House. RailGuy kindly supplied the above photograph. The photo below is by Richard Bartz (Munich) found at Wikipedia.


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