I’ve seen wood ducks in our wetlands perhaps a dozen times, although they’re probably here more often then they’re seen. Wood ducks are secretive birds and tend to stay hidden among the willows of our wetlands during the Museum’s open hours.
On Thursday of last week I heard a wood duck call from the far side of the wetlands. Wood ducks don’t quack, but make various kinds of squeaky, whistling sounds. It’s often the only sign that there’s a wood duck in the area, when they give this call while flying (unseen) away from you as you hike along.
Two days later I was on the boardwalk watching turtles basking on the far side of the wetlands when I noticed movement behind the turtles, back among the tangle of the willows’ roots, trunks, and branches.
I took out my camera, and against better judgement used the digital zoom on the point and shoot camera to get as close as I could to whatever it was that was moving. I clicked away. I knew I wouldn’t get very sharp photos but for documentation purposes, they’d do.
I first saw a female, then a male, and then the pair swam out together from behind a willow.
During mid afternoon on Wednesday (5/3) it was quiet in the Wetlands. Most school groups had departed for the day and a distinct calm had settled in. The two ducks swam across the open water and came to rest on an island fairly close to the boardwalk leading into the Wetlands. I was able to get a few shots of the birds as they relaxed on shore. Minutes later a large school group descended the boardwalk and the ducks swam off to the security of the willows.
Could these wood ducks be contemplating nesting in one of our nest boxes?