Wood Ducks are one my favorites! I was so excited when we spotted this guy…
Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females.
The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times over a mile away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of over 50 feet without injury.
Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
We spotted a few female (what we believe to be ) Barrow’s Goldeneye…
They ended up getting a bit too close together and duck decided she didn’t want the other around…
And chased the other one away!
The Barrow’s Goldeneye is rather long-lived for a duck, with one individual reaching 18 years of age. Most females do not breed until they are three years old.
Like the Common Goldeneye, the Barrow’s Goldeneye is not too particular about holding on to its own offspring. A female may lay eggs in the nest of another goldeneye or other species of cavity-nesting duck. Once the ducklings come out of the nest, the broods of different females often come together and are taken care of by a single female. The young ducklings are highly independent, feeding on their own, and require little parental care.
For a species with such widely separated populations, it is perhaps surprising that the Barrow’s Goldeneye shows little variation from place to place. Those breeding in North America are essentially identical on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Female Barrow’s Goldeneyes breeding in Iceland do not get as extensively yellow bills as the North American birds, but have only a yellow or orangish band on the outer third of the otherwise dusky bill.
My husband and I took a drive along the north end of Flathead Lake, we found some farmers fields flooded from the melting snow. In the huge puddles we saw some Northern Pintail ducks…
Slim and long-necked, the Northern Pintail has a distinctive silhouette. The male is easy to identify by his striking markings and long tail, but even the female can be recognized by her graceful, long-necked shape.
Like the Mallard, the Northern Pintail breeds in a variety of habitats all across northern North America and Eurasia. Also like the Mallard, island populations have splintered off and evolved into separate species. Two closely related forms can be found on Crozet and Kerguelen islands in the very southern Indian Ocean, known as Eaton’s Pintail (Anas eatoni
The Northern Pintail is among the earliest nesting ducks in North America, beginning shortly after ice-out in many northern areas.
Seen on St. Mary’s Lake in Glacier National Park on Labor Day…
Description: The long, narrow bill with serrated edges readily distinguishes mergansers from all other ducks. Common mergansers are among the largest ducks, but are less stocky than eiders and goldeneyes. In flight, they appear more elongated than other ducks, flying in trailing lines close to the water’s surface. Male common mergansers have a greenish-black crested head and upper neck. The lower neck, breast and underparts are creamy-white with a variable pink wash. They have black backs and upperwing coverts with white scapulars. The bill is red with a blackish culmen and nail. The legs and feet are a deep red. Female common mergansers have a tufted red-brown head that is clearly defined from the lower neck by a clear whitish chin. The back and sides are silver-gray and the breast and belly are white. The bill is red with a blackish culmen and nail. The legs and feet are deep red.
Breeding: Common mergansers breed from Alaska, the southern Yukon, Labrador and Newfoundland south to central California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Chihuahua and east of the Rockies to Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New England and Nova Scotia. Common mergansers nest in tree cavities, nest boxes, cliff crevices and on the ground, generally near clear-water rivers in forested regions and on mountainous terrain. Female common mergansers lay an average of 9-12 eggs.
Migrating and Wintering: In winter, the American race of common merganser ranges along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland almost to Florida, in the interior from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast from the Aleutian Islands to Mexico.
Population: May population surveys during 1970-’79, suggested a continental population of 1.5 million birds. Currently, accurate population information does not exist for common mergansers. However, populations are thought to be stable.
Food habits: Common mergansers eat mainly fish, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks and other invertebrates obtained by diving underwater in marine and freshwater habitats.
Part Border Collie, part lamb…little Charlie loves to chase the chickens.
Proud Mama, Drifa!
Drifa with her ram lamb Finn, and ewe lamb Fern.
Finn, was the first to arrive and had a perfect delivery. Little Fern was the last to make her appearance. Her front feet were coming out but no head. She had it way off to the side and twisted back. At 2 am I was convinced this was a headless lamb… I was about to give up fishing for it when it last I caught hold of it. It took several more minutes trying to align it correctly and finally pull her out. She span right to life and got busy looking for something to eat!
Drifa is such a good mamma. She was holding perfectly still while letting little Finn nurse and was licking little Fern off right after she was born. Fern, while trying to figure out her legs kept going backwards and Drifa would stretch her neck a little further and keep cleaning and holding perfectly still!
The chicken stomper, Miss Freckles! Poor henny was just trying to find a spot to lay eggs, she decided that next Freckles baby was not the spot!
Adorable Miss Freya…
A happy Thor dog…
The boys delivering eggs…
The sun came out for a brief moment.
Mother and last year’s daughter…
The miracle of birth (Do you see the tiny hooves making their appearance?)