Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wood Ducks; March Migration to Northern Illinois

A pair of Wood Ducks, Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, WI; 5/1/2011.
Wood Ducks are another water bird that calls northern Illinois its summer home. They are always a treat to see and they arrive in late March. I have seen these colorful creatures in several areas this spring - along the foliage-covered banks of the Kishwaukee River in Espenscheid and Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserves, in secluded ponds in Rock Cut State Park, and in the marshes of the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Refuge (WI).  Their summer grounds range throughout much of the U.S. from the Great Plains to the East coast as well as into the southern parts of Canada. Out West they are less common, but can be found along the northern Pacific Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington as well as across these states into Idaho and the western edge of Montana. In winter they will migrate down to the Southeastern states along the Gulf Coast.

A flock of Wood Ducks and sunbathing turtles at a secluded pond,
Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 4/29/2011.
There is a little pond in Rock Cut State Park that is hidden by trees and thick under brush  from the main trails in which I have often seen flocks of Wood Ducks (Above). After I made this discovery, the first few times I tried to approach and take photos of them, I made too much noise while bushwacking through the branches and dead leaves to make a good observation, and scared them off as they flew away with their distinctive distressing raspy squawks. However, I learned that if I took my time silently bushwacking through the brush (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it can be done), I was able to get close enough without startling them to get some decent pics (Below).
A close up shot of the colorful male Wood Duck hiding in the low branches
along the banks of the pond,  Rock Cut State Park, IL; 4/29/2011.

I caught this pic of a female Wood Duck as it was dabbling along the banks of
the Kishwaukee River, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.
According to http://www.allaboutbirds.org/ , Wood Ducks like to nest in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to a mile away. When the ducklings hatch, they jump down from the nest and make their way to water. The mother does not help them, but calls them to her. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to over 200 feet without injury. I have never seen this, but it would be an awesome sight.

Although its not a great photo in focus, Wood Ducks are always a colorful sight
when they are in flight, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.
It's difficult not to want to take pictures of these ducks. They are certainly one of the most colorfully marked birds found on our continent. One of my goals is to get a nice sharp photo of a flock of these guys in flight (Above - although not in very good focus).

3 comments:

~Val said...

Love the colors on these pretty ducks!

Anonymous said...

Saw a pair of these at the Naperville Riverwalk with a small flock of mallards on 11/13/2011.

Anonymous said...

Today for the first time I saw a male in my yard below the bird feeder. I had to look up what type of duck it was. Stunning!!!! Lisle, IL 2/7/2013