Our hooded merganser ducklings emerged from their nest box today. We had a total of 19 ducklings with 3 eggs remaining. This suggests to us that there were 2 clutches of eggs. Normally these ducks only lay around 13 eggs but it is common to find 20-30 eggs in a nest box or tree cavity.
We keep an eye on the nest boxes after about 25 days into incubation. Once we see the ducklings in the box, we know they leave within 24 hours which is typically mid-morning the next day. Hooded mergansers are precocial which means the they are relatively mature from the moment of hatching.
This is the first clutch to emerge this year. I have built a total of 5 duck houses around the pond over the past 10 years. We expanded the pond a couple times to make it more suitable for all wildlife. We are glad to have had a chance to give back. Now onto the pics….
A few pics of the happy family. Mother with ducklings in tow
Here is a duckling we like to call “cuddles”. This was him snuggling down with mom yesterday
Here is the video from today. Not as good as the one from last year
Here is my video from 2014 of hooded mergansers leaving their nest.
In the spring
This pic was from back in the spring when the first mergansers began arriving. In this group, are the mom and dad. Not sure which couple 🙂
The male merganser putting on a show.
The female guarding her nest box. This pic was taken just before the ducklings emerged but she will do this a few times during the incubation period.
The audience for today’s event
Of course we had other visitors come by to watch. This house wren has been singing for the past few weeks bragging about his ability to build houses. Here he is taking ownership of my camera.
Just after the ducklings emerged we had this green heron appear. He didn’t stay long.
The mother and ducklings will disappear into our woods in the next few hours, never to be seen again. We have 2 clutches remaining. However, we believe one of them may be wood ducks because there is a female sitting on one of them. We have had a mixed grouping in previous years.
Update 2015-06-05 – Our second family of hooded mergansers emerged today. This time 15 ducklings in total with 1 egg remaining in the nest box. So a total of 34 in our pond this year.
Update 2015-06-09 – Our wood ducks emerged today. 12 ducklings in total and no eggs remaining. It’s been a good year.