How Much Wood Could a Wood Duck Chuck if a Wood Duck Could Chuck Wood?
A common feathered friend is getting ready to become a parent during early Spring. Soon delightful little brown ducklings will be falling from the sky and waddling your way.
Have you ever seen a duck up a tree? Yes that may be a strange sight but one that you’re very likely to see at the moment. The Australian Wood Duck is getting clucky this month and mum and dad will be looking for a suitable tree to nest in.
The Wood Duck is Australia’s most common duck and lives just about anywhere in Australia with the exception of particularly arid areas. There are different ways to recognise these ducks and one way is by their call.
Their distinctive brown and white feathers make Wood Ducks easy for you to distinguish from other waterbirds, as they look completely unique. Male and female wood ducks are easy to tell apart because dad’s feathers are much darker and more distinctive than mum’s.
As well as looking unusual, the Wood Duck is one of the very few ducks that doesn’t really like swimming! While they often live close to water, you will rarely see them out paddling in ponds and rivers with the other ducks.
The Australian Wood Duck prefers to dabble along the water’s edge and forage for yummy insects and water-loving plants. While they are nesting at the moment, they will often avoid the water altogether and seek out fields and paddocks near their nest for tasty herbs and soft grasses. A favourite food of the Wood Duck is the soft, small clover plant.
Daddy Wood Duck, like some of the other animals in this month’s B-mail, takes great care of mum and the little babies. The lovely couple form strong, life-long bonds and both of the parents help raise and care for their young once they’ve hatched.
While mum is up in the tree sitting on her 9 to 11 cream-coloured eggs, dad stands guard on the ground to fight off intruders who might threaten his family. Wood Duck dad takes his duties very seriously and works hard to keep his family safe.
Once the chicks have hatched and are a few days old, mum and dad sit at the bottom of the tree and call for their chicks to join them. If this doesn’t entice them out, mum will teach her ducklings to jump out of the nest by repeatedly flying between the nest and the ground, calling out to her chicks as she goes.
If you happen to be nearby when this event is taking place, you may be shocked at first to see tiny ducklings falling from a tree. Don’t worry though, these little fluff balls are very light and once they’ve bounced a few times, they just shake themselves off and quickly rush to mum and dad’s side.
t’s easy to encourage Australian Wood Ducks into your garden, you just need to build or buy a suitable nest and place it high enough off the ground so that predators can’t reach it.
DID YOU KNOW?
To protect their young, Wood Duck parents sometimes perform a ‘broken wing’ routine, where they pretend to be maimed to lead predators away from their young. At other times mum and dad will freeze with their chicks and stick their necks out to distract and confuse predators.