Yesterday Leonard and I hiked at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA). There seemed to be an abundance of wood duck ducklings. The males were not to be seen nearby as females are responsible for tending the ducklings.
Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) usually pair up while on their wintering grounds and nest early in the season. Nests are usually built near water (shallow inland lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and swamps, mainly those surrounded by woodlands). Nest sites are most often in large tree cavities up to about 60 feet above ground. Wood ducks cannot dig their own cavity. Natural holes, rather than abandoned nest holes, are preferred. Wood ducks also readily use appropriately placed artificial nest boxes.
The nest cavity is lined with down. Six to sixteen glossy, creamy-white eggs are incubated by the female for 28 to 37 days. Females often lay eggs in each others’ nests or in “dump nests” where no incubation occurs. Wood ducks have claws on their feet, which the ducklings use to clamber to the cavity entrance the morning after hatching. The ducklings then jump to the ground. These little fuzzy balls of down can fall 50 feet without harm.
Upon leaving the nest cavity wood duck ducklings can swim and find their own food. The mothers care for the youngsters for 56 to 70 days at which time they can fly and become independent.
I love watching these ducklings feed and swim with their mothers.