I wandered out into the garden one spring morning and heard a soft clucking coming from high in a gum tree. It was a goose like duck, which was soon joined by a wooing male. Such handsome birds.
They are Australian native wood ducks, and mainly feed on grass and other vegetation. Sometimes there are dandelions for dessert (if I have neglected my weeding).
The alternative name of Maned ducks comes for the ‘mane’ of chestnut brown feather on the neck of the male.
LEAP OF FAITH
Nesting in trees (as wood ducks do) has its benefits, especially if there are foxes about. However, the fledglings are forced to leave their downy nest and simply topple to the ground in a true leap of faith. It must be rather scary, but as they are so light and fluffy they rarely come to any harm.
Here is a you-tube video (not taken by me) of the whole nesting process in a box attached to a tree
I was delighted when our little family finally appeared down at the local pond.
A few days later a council worker told my husband that one little duckling had been found dead in the nearby public swimming pool. Oh dear, probably that wayward little blighter.
After that we didn’t see the family at all. We presumed that the chicks must have been taken by a fox. I refused to think that my darling kookaburras would have eaten them.
ALL IS NOT LOST!
A few days ago I walked down to Memorial Park. I wanted to take some photos of the giant rhododendrons.
I walked past the pond and to my great joy, there were the wood ducks! Another youngster was missing, but still……..
It had been unseasonably wet and windy for days. I could understand the family’s choice to soak up some sunshine rather than take a dip. A couple more weeks and it will be difficult to distinguish the youngsters from their parents.
DAY TWO OF THE SECOND COMING
We spent some time this morning watching the family forage for greenery in the shallows and sailing around the pond. Mother wood duck was quick to ward off any intruding males with a hiss and a threatening lunge.
Wood ducks mate for life. I hope our breeding pair will produce many more little families. And maybe they will learn to keep the toddlers away from that damn swimming pool.
Finally, I cannot resist including this wonderful photo taken by Leigh Wilson. I count 15 little ducklings swimming along with their proud parents..
I think the female in the photo below wants to join the circus.
The entertainment provided by the wood ducks is only rivaled by our resident bowerbirds.
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