Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks breed in nest boxes and in tree cavities. They are among the few North American ducks that nest twice in the same season. Often, but not always, this second brood is laid by older females. The second brood is usually smaller than the first. The number of eggs laid by females depends not on her age, but on her weight.

Wood Ducks often lay their eggs in other Wood Ducks’ nests. Hooded Mergansers will also lay their eggs in Wood Duck nests. Rates of this nest parasitism vary, but have been reported in some populations as high has 85% for nests with other Wood Duck eggs and 39% with Hooded Merganser eggs. The rate of parasitism is apparently correlated with how easy it is to see the nest cavity. The average number of eggs in non-parasitized nests is 9 to 12; parasitized nests can host up to an average of 22 (Hepp and Bellrose 2013).

Erika and I photographed this male Wood Duck as it warily eyed us during a stroll in the McLane Creek Nature Trail, near Olympia, Washington, on 20 July 2014.

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