Sunday, August 14, 2011

Juvenile Wood Ducks...at eye level...

Canoeing the Little Miami River
...another benefit of canoeing on the river is how close you can get to juvenile Wood Ducks. Rick and I were floating toward a cluster of downed trees to photograph an Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle sunning on one of the branches. We could see a brood of juvenile Wood Ducks milling around the tree, but I assumed they would swim away in terror as we got closer to them (similar to the way adults burst from the water whistling in reproach when disturbed), but the juvenile didn't. They went about their business as we floated past, eyeing us suspiciously, but showing no real alarm. Before this encounter I had never been close enough to a Wood Duck to see the thin yellow line around their eyes. I've always loved Wood Ducks, but now I'm really smitten. I've seen this little brood three times now--twice while canoeing with Rick and once while kayaking by myself. Hopefully we can get back to see them a few more times before they head south for the winter. Time is running out, though...

A juvenile Wood Duck swims near a downed tree on the Little Miami River.

...maybe this little brood is so tolerant of humans and canoes because so many have drifted past them this summer. I guess as a little Wood Duck it would be easy to become habituated to humans if you lived on Morgan's canoe run!

...it's a special feeling to be so close to the water...and almost eye level with the Wood Ducks!

...a sweet little family of Wood Ducks.

A young Eastern Spiny Softshell turtle shares his log with two Wood Ducks.


...cute, cute, cute!

Since Wood Ducks nest exclusively in cavities, the next time we float past, I'm going to look up in the trees to see if I can spot the tree they used. I know, however, I probably won't find it because their nesting cavity could be in a tree 150 feet or more away from the water. In "The Birds of Ohio," by Bruce Peterjohn, he writes Wood Ducks can nest up to a half mile away, although they prefer to be close to the water. I remember when I was a kid I watched an animal show that documented baby Wood Ducks taking their first plunge into the water from their nesting cavity, which was 50 or 60 feet over the water. When they splashed into the water and immediately bobbed up and started swimming I couldn't believe it. They then showed another brood of baby Wood Ducks climbing out of a nesting cavity located in the woods no where near water. The little babies jumped from the hole, free falling to the forest floor only to bounce a few times when they hit the ground. I was so shocked to see it, but all their fluffy feathers and the fact that their bodies were still mostly composed of cartilage instead of bone protected them from injury. I was amazed back then...and I still am... What an introduction to the world these little cuties have!

27 comments:

Jain said...

I love these shots. There are lots of young 'uns here but I can't get anywhere near them.

I wonder if the show you referenced was Marty Stouffer's Wild America. If so, I remember that episode, too!

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

They are so pretty. I would love to see some in person but your photos are the next best thing to being there!

Birding is Fun! said...

Wow! More fantastic photos and narrative. Awesome Wood Ducks!

Lois Evensen said...

Just wonderful shots. I especially like the one where the ducks are sharing the log with the turtle.

TexWisGirl said...

they are adorable! i've never seen teen wood ducks before! :)

Banjo52 said...

Fascinating once again. I was liking all the pics, as usual, but that last solo portrait is special--so sharp. You do make us feel your closeness to your subject.

Janice K said...

Oh so precious! In the picture with the turtle I like how the one little one is standing on one leg.

grammie g said...

Hi Kelly ...Loved the post ...they are so cute! We have them on he river here, but they spook easy!
I like the log and the turtle one...nice to share : }

Dina said...

Great shots. It's funny how when they are that young you can't tell the females from the males. Or maybe they are all females in this group?

Montanagirl said...

Just gorgeous shots of these little beauties. Isn't eye-level grand??

Caroline said...

Perfect at eye level - and their eyes are lovely too!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Sweet little ducks, Kelly... You captured them well... What cuties.
Hugs,
Betsy

Elaine said...

Exquisite, Kelly! So what color is your new canoe going to be?

holdingmoments said...

Beautiful shots Kelly, and a great feeling of intimacy being so close and at their level.

Penny said...

They look really cute, we have wood duck too, they are nesting now, different variety of course.

Laure Ferlita said...

Great shots, Kelly!

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

These are really magnificent photos, and I enjoyed the information you provided.

All the best.
Guy

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant photos of Wood Ducklings, it is great to them that you go canoeing.

Warren Baker said...

Looks like you were in the river with them Kelly - great close ups :-)

PS i'm also playing catch up !

edithlevyphotography.com said...

Wow really great images Kelly.

Roy said...

These are pretty little ducks Kelly, lovely photographs.

Robin Robinson said...

Wonderful Wood Duck shots. Soon, they'll be coming through here again. Geez, summer has just started, too!

Wren said...

Great photo, Kelly. Cute little critters, and those big eyes are quite something. With the eye rings, they could be right off the pages of a manga.

Wren said...

Great photo, Kelly. Cute little critters, and those big eyes are quite something. With the eye rings, they could be right off the pages of a manga.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I love these little ducks. They are so amazing, and Jain....yes, thank you! That is the show! I had forgotten its name. I used to love watching it...

Anne Tull said...

We canoed down the Little Miami River today and saw a mama wood duck and her three little ducklings basking on a log in the river. Rare treat! Thanks for your web site; we were able to learn more about them.

Kelly said...

Ann....cool!!! It's always fun canoeing the Little Miami River. You can see so much wildlife too! Thanks...