Sunday, 30 August 2015

Prospecting ducks

A pair of Australian Wood Ducks Chenonetta jubata above a potential nest hole high in a tree

It's not only parrots that nest in tree holes in Canberra, although there are so many around it seems like it sometimes. Tree holes are prime real estate for a many animals; brush-tailed possums and sugar gliders, kookaburras and treecreepers, bats and smaller creatures such as spiders. Also, as Canberra has lots of open grassland in parks and road verges, it has a large population of wood ducks, which are grass-eaters. And they all need nest holes too.

The other day I watched a female wood duck cooing and grunting from high in the branches of an old eucalyptus. She was prospecting for a nest hole and seemed to have found a suitable one if only she could work out how to fly into and land on its rim - the hole was on the underside of a thick limb.

The female was the more interested in the hole, the male was simply following her, protecting her

She spent more than ten minutes bending over and peering into the darkness, while the male spent most of that time preening himself. The drake's purpose is to protect his mate from predators and any other suitors. So, this one's investment is in her and the fertilised eggs she was carrying. Her investment is a safe place to nest, hidden away from danger while she incubates the eggs. She will be in her nest hole, whether this one or another, for about a month, only coming off perhaps once a day to feed. Then when the ducklings hatch, she will encourage them to jump down from the nest hole, then lead them away to the nearest water for safety, and surrounding grass for the ducklings to eat.

She seemed to like the hole but wasn't sure how to get into it?

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