Duck on the deck

Lee Rentz leerentz at ix.netcom.com
Tue Mar 26 08:27:31 PST 2002


This morning as I stumbled out to the kitchen to make coffee, I
noticed a duck on the deck. Turns out it wasn't the ordinary Mallard
with the injured leg who daily flies up to the deck to feed; instead,
it was a female Wood Duck. Then I noticed her rather more colorful
male companion was also on the deck. I woke up Karen and she came
out and surreptitiously videotaped the pair as they fed on black oil
sunflower seed scattered by the Evening Grosbeaks and Red-winged
Blackbirds.

As we watched the Wood Ducks, I also noticed a pair of Hooded
Mergansers flying up to one of the nest boxes we originally put up
for Woodies, but which have been occupied by Hoodies each year. The
female Hoodie flew into the nest box while the male veered off. She
stayed in the nest box for about five minutes, long enough I presume
to lay an egg, then flew down to the lake. About then we startled
the Wood Ducks and they flew down to the lake, where the Woodies and
Hoodies together made their way down the shoreline with shared
interspecific nervousness at our presence.

Our deck is high above the ground, but that doesn't stop five
raccoons from climbing up the support post to get at the birdseed.
One of the raccoons is such a good climber that it climbed above the
aluminum sheet I installed on the nest box tree as a predator guard.
Right after that I added an extension sheet that should keep it away
from the nest boxes (the slowly dying Bigleaf Maple where I installed
two Wood Duck nest boxes and one swallow nest box is about fifty feet
from our deck and right on the shore of Fawn Lake).

A bigger potential problem is the female starling who keeps flying
into the nest box where the Hooded Merganser visited. Do starlings
destroy duck eggs?


Field Trip Report:

Sunday Karen and I drove to the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife
Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer (that title's a
mouthful!). Highlights included a hovering White-tailed Kite and a
Say's Phoebe that was flycatching from the top of a small building at
the refuge office. We also saw three White-tailed deer and delighted
to see one of them leaping over a fence.

On the loop home toward Shelton it seemed that every estuarine meadow
had its own band of elk. That day we saw seven bands of Roosevelt
Elk, the largest with 39 individuals and several nearly as large.
Political comment: These estuary meadows are so lovely--and such a
contrast to the cutover Willapa Hills, which look like they've had a
long series of really bad haircuts. But then, my big wooden Wood
Duck-hosting deck might well have planking that came from those
clearcuts, so who am I to complain?

Lee Rentz
Shelton, WA
lee at leerentz.com



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