Few bird species delight us in the late fall and early winter as Wood Ducks do. For only a few years now, they have decided to choose our property to roost for the night, and we anticipate their return each and every year.
The first indication is hearing them call in the pre-dawn hours from the creek through our open bedroom window. I’m not sure which call gives me more goosebumps, theirs or the Barred Owls.
Here is a sound byte from Matthew Spoor’s Soundcloud:
No matter how quietly we approach through the yard gate to the water’s edge, morning or evening, the flock spooks instantly and flushes all-at-once into flight. Needless to say, they are the dickens to photograph.
A couple of evenings ago, I was already by the creek with my camera and lens. I was shooting this guy — a recently arrived sapsucker. He was intent upon his sap well and didn’t seem to mind my camera intrusion one bit.
This photograph is uncropped.
Out of nowhere, a raft of Wood Ducks — that’s what the group is called — flew in straight in front of me to roost for the night. They prefer the reeds and trees just opposite our shoreline for protection aerial predators, of which we have many.
For once, I was in exactly the right place at the right time. They failed to notice my squatting along the shoreline, so I sat very, very still. Watching for a long while through field lenses first, I slowly lifted the camera from behind my tree ‘blind’ and snapped a few photos which immediately alerted them to my presence.
They hurried down the creek away from me. I hastily counted at least 15, mostly males.
Mate-guarding is serious business.
The two females stick close to their body guards.
Wood Duck Male and Female
Spotted! A ‘click’ of the shutter does it
This is the best I’ve done so far with this skittish species of duck. Living on the water certainly helps in getting to see these beautiful birds in real life, but a big dose of luck — and a whole lot of being outside, people! — is required in order to get a decent picture of them.
Catch me if you can.
Ever seen a 2-day old wood duck chick free-falling?
It’s the cutest thing you’ll ever see!
Video is care of PBS Nature’s
‘An Original Duckumentary.‘ We own it!