Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Posts about Bird interactions

Late hatch for ducks

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: July 28, 2013 - 10:40 PM

Having seen no ducks on our pond for weeks, I was surprised Saturday morning to see a Mallard hen and six ducklings feeding in the morning shade along the far side of the water. When I told my wife of this she said, no, not Mallards, Wood Ducks. They sure looked like Mallards to me. And then I saw the Wood Duck hen with 10 youngsters. OK. Bad light. Later in the day, however, in good light, the Mallard and her ducklings returned. This is late for both species to have new families. The Wood Duck ducklings are not more than a week old, if that. They’ll mature just in time for migration. I assume that both hens lost eggs or their broods to predators, and renested. Ducks will do that. They must have caught drakes for mating just before the boys left the neighborhood; I haven’t seen a drake Mallard or Wood Duck for weeks. This is the time of year when the males molt. It renders them flightless for a few weeks. Consequently, they seek safety on quiet water to undergo feather renewal.

Sunday morning the hen Wood Duck left the pond, up and away. She was gone until late in the afternoon, an absence of about six hours. During that time her ducklings swam and fed and preened alone or in pairs. They looked very comfortable by themselves, The usual cluster of ducklings you see when they’re with their mother formed again when she returned. She splashed down, and like magic, little ducks converged from everywhere. I found it strange that the hen would leave such young ducklings alone for so long. 

 

Young owls

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: April 28, 2013 - 11:12 AM

 The Great Horned Owl chicks I've been watching are beginning to look like owls. This photo was taken Sunday morning. 

There were crows and jays in the area, birds that would mob adult owls. The young birds are ignored. Perhaps they are  recognized as non-threatening in this plumage. 

 

Fighting for nesting rights

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: April 25, 2013 - 6:34 PM

 

Before the ice was off the small pond in our backyard a pair of Canada Geese showed interest in nesting here. Geese have nested on the pond in previous years. As soon as I had open water I did some repair work to the floating nest platform. The pair appeared to be settling in. Yesterday (Wednesday) a second pair of geese arrived. The fight between goose couples began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The main event lasted an hour, not that they stopped then. I heard and watched them at 11 p.m., and at 1:15 and 3 in the morning. It’s now 10:45 in the morning, and the squabbling continues into its 20th hour. We’re down to verbal exchanges, a big difference from the loud, serious, physical encounters earlier. We had chasing, biting, attempts at dunking, and much flapping of those large wings. The pairs worked together. They fought mostly on the water, but occasionally in our yard. They stopped fighting now and again for intense preening. All feathers in place once again, it was back to the battle. The resident pair has spent some time on the nest platform; I assume they are and will be the winners, although the challengers remain at the edge of the pond. It was a great photo op. (Addendum: at 6 p.m. Thursday both pair remain at the pond, awake after naps on the sun, back on the honk.)

 

 

Bright spot on snowy day

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: April 12, 2013 - 9:51 AM

 Disregarding a heavy coating of slush on our backyard pond yesterday, 11 Wood Ducks and a pair of Hooded Mergansers spent most of the afternoon there. I was sitting just inside our back storm door, taking photos through the glass of the birds coming to our feeders when the ducks arrived. Sometimes what you want most actually is given. I wanted duck and merganser drakes in the same photo frame. They're our most beautiful waterfowl in my book. And so, they gave me this. The birds mostly ignored each other, but when a Wood Duck got into the merganser's personal space, brief threats were given. 

Ducks and mergansers together

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: April 12, 2013 - 8:56 AM

 Disregarding a heavy coating of slush on our backyard pond yesterday, 11 Wood Ducks and a pair of Hooded Mergansers spent most of the afternoon there. I was sitting just inside our back storm door, taking photos through the glass of the birds coming to our feeders when the ducks arrived. Sometimes what you want most actually is given. I wanted duck and merganser drakes in the same photo frame. They're our most beautiful waterfowl in my book. And so, they gave me this. The birds mostly ignored each other, but when a Wood Duck got into the merganser's personal space, brief threats were given. 

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT