Once referred to as a “glowing gem” by Henry David Thoreau, the male wood duck is a most magnificent sight, and each wood duck’s life starts with an equally magnificent journey. Female wood ducks nest in tree cavities about 25 feet high. She will lay 6-15 eggs, though she may have to raise up to 30 hatchlings due to intraspecific brood parasitism. This occurs when a female wood duck sneaks into the cavity of another hen and adds her eggs to the nest!
Once a wood duck hatchling is just one day old, it is time to leave the nest. The mother duck calls patiently from the base of the tree while each hatchling makes a leap of faith from the safety of its nest. Falling (from up to 60 feet!) to the ground is only the start of their adventure as they now must trek to the pond, which can be up to a mile away. Be on the lookout for these broods at your Metropark’s pond or lake this summer.