Wood Ducks

This gallery contains 6 photos. As often as I have seen adult Wood Ducks in Metro Vancouver for the past six years, seeing their young up close was still an elusive experience for me.  More often than not, the mother would have her brood shuffled off in a pond or marsh, far from prying eyes and predators. I finally had the opportunity to see Wood Ducks at the younger stages of their life cycle. For these three-day-old ducklings, it happened under rather bittersweet circumstances; they were the survivors of a hungry Black Bear — its rampages consisted of ripping down all the nestboxes of Tree and Violet-Green Swallows and Wood Ducks earlier in the day at Piper Spit. When we got there in the evening, activity at the spit was eerily absent. Not surprisingly, their mother was quite protective.

© WHSIM-A-Quartet-of-Wood-Duck-ducklings.jpg
Just a few days old, and already survivors of a bear attack. Taken  at Piper Spit on June 25, 2016

f/7.1, 1/320, 340mm, ISO 400

We saw this slightly older duckling (a few weeks older) at Piper Spit. Even at this tender age, Wood Duck ducklings are quite capable of keeping themselves groomed, and are aware of their surroundings. So inured to the presence of humans at this particular wildlife habitat that they tend to be quite relaxed around humans.

© WHSIM-Older-Wood-Duck-duckling.jpg
A slightly older duckling at Burnaby Lake. Taken at Piper Spit on July 26, 2015
f/8, 1/500, 500mm, ISO 1250

These are photos of a young male and a young female, respectively. Although both have lost their white faces, as juveniles, neither have the crests nor the full plumage that will distinguish them as adults: most notably, the young male (who already has his red eyes, but not the red “eyeliner”) lacks the iridescent head, whilst the white eyepatches of the young female are still developing.

© WHSIM-Juvenile-Male-Wood-Duck.jpg
A juvenile male demonstrates his ability to grasp branches. Taken at Piper Spit on July 11, 2016
f/10, 1/250, 403mm, ISO 800

© WHSIM-Juvenile-Female-Wood-Duck.jpg
A juvenile female plies the waters of Burnaby Lake. Taken at at Piper Spit on July 11, 2016
f/10, 1/250, 289mm, ISO 800

I stumbled upon this courting pair at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in 2015. While it was not odd to see them out of water, it was strange to see them so far from the beaten path (so to speak; this was actually quite the beaten path), and far from the company of other ducks. (incidentally, Ttheir courtship was an interesting thing to witness).

© WHSIM-Courting-Wood-Ducks.jpg
Love is in the air (and on the land). Taken at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on March 24, 2015
f/6.3, 1/1250, 370mm, ISO 1250

The same male and female Wood Ducks above, shown below in their full respective adult plumages. The dashes of white on their breeding attire really make these waterfowl the most debonair looking in the duck world. Learn more about the Wood Duck by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology allaboutbirds.org profile here.

Wood Ducks: A Look at their Life CycleMr. and Mrs. Wood Duck. Taken at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary on March 24, 2015
f/6.3, 1/1250, 370mm, ISO 1250

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16 thoughts on “Wood Ducks

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