Fri Mar 2023

Perching Wood Ducks*

They had been around for several weeks. I’d twice caught sight of them at first light, dark silhouettes against the pewter-gray pond, their white patterns twinkling in the semi-darkness. Each time, I tried to inch closer to the window for a better look, but each time they spotted me and flew off. Wood Ducks are the pond’s most elusive waterfowl.

This time, they came at a more civilized hour, and I was ready for them. Luckily, I had on dark clothes. I kept back from the windows, shooting through the glass. The photos needed a little touch-up, afterwards, but the strategy paid off.

As usual, they came by water. After several minutes, the female suddenly flew up into the tree, with the male close behind. They perched just two or three feet above my eye level.

The Wood Ducks always spend a few minutes in the maple, when they visit. Like the Bald Eagle which always stops in the willow, they obviously like to look around, out of curiosity perhaps, or to check for danger, or just to get their bearings. People are surprised to learn there’s a duck that spends time in trees. Sharp claws make it possible.

Wood Ducks are about three-quarters the length of an adult Mallard. The male is the flashy one, but the female has lovely, subtle colors that aren’t fully revealed in these photos because of poor light.

The next morning, about 7:00 am, I saw them farther out in the pond, in the mating ritual. They’ll nest here, in a tree cavity by the water’s edge. We’ll keep a lookout for the young’uns.

The photos are displayed in order of occurrence, as usual. Note the time stamp under each. The date of this sequence was March 25, 2012.