Wood Ducks Fledging Their Nest Box

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About a month ago riding the Chesapeake Farms wildlife auto tour, I had stopped for several minutes, trying to get my lens on a bird, to no avail.

It was then, just up ahead on my left about 30 feet, an array of excited chirps and chattering filled the woods’ silence.

Slowly moving my car forward, passing a clump of bushes and large tree trunk was Wood Duck nest box #17.  And adorable, chattering Wood Ducks were fledging!

“Weeee!”  (plop!)

“Woohoo!”  (plop!)

No time to grab my other camera with wider lens on the passenger seat.  I had my 200-500mm lens in my hand; so I stayed at 200mm and clicked away as ducklings #3 through #9 jumped 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters) down to the water!

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“The Scene”
(at 200mm)

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I am sharing this delightful event in sequence, with further photo cropping unless a duckling was sailing out.

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Ducklings #3 with #4 trying to see

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Ducklings #3 and #4

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“My turn!”

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Ducklings #5 not waiting as #6 looks on

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Duckling #6 pondering

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Ducklings #6 getting ready to jump with #7 looking on

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Duckling #7

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“I don’t know about this…..”

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“It sure looks pretty far down…..”

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“Okay….I think I got this….”

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“Here I come!”

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Ducklings #8 and #9

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Duckling #8 pushing off for the plunge

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Duckling #9 all alone

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“Wait for me!”

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Within one minute, all nine ducklings were now in the water below.

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Wood Duck ducklings

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I quickly scanned the trees above, looking for Momma but didn’t see her.  I pulled away slowly so she could come down to them.

Twenty minutes later I passed by this location again on my way out of the farm and not a duckling in sight.  Momma had done her job and escorted them away to safer waters deeper in the woods.  🙂

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Common Grackle Fledgling

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Walking around my backyard this morning, I noticed something dark on the grass under my big willow oak.  l started walking towards it to investigate and suddenly had two Common Grackles going crazy loud above me, flying from branch to branch.

Sitting as still as could be on the grass was a Common Grackle youngster.  My first time ever seeing one, so I clicked a couple shots and then redirected my walk away.

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Common Grackle fledgling

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It’s good to know the parents are watching out for their little ones.  😊

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American Robin Youngster

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Curious, young birds are fun to watch as they maneuver around their new world after fledging.

I spotted this young American Robin just outside our garage on the concrete patio.

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American Robin youngster

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“Feed Me”

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It kept standing there, looking at me, begging.  I heard myself say, “Oh sweetie, I am not your Momma.”

I then heard the parent call from the tree, and the little one turned to that direction.  I grabbed this next quick shot and left it be.  I peeked out the window and watched it hop over where Momma swooped down for a feeding.

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Sporting new feathers!

Welcome, little one!

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Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

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Common in Central and South America, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have steadily expanded their range into the southern U.S. and still continue to broaden northward.

Spring last year, a rare small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks arrived at a countryside residential development’s retention pond near Clayton, Delaware, and stayed until fall, a huge delight to birders from near and far.  I shared them with you last September before they migrated south for the winter.

And now they are back!  There are 32 of them scattered around the pond, some alone, some paired up, and still others grouped under the trees’ shade.

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Black-bellied Whistling Duck

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Unlike most ducks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks mate for life.

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The pond is alongside a residential street so you can sit in your car and easily photograph them without any disturbance.

Here’s a bath time series of photos that I think will give you a chuckle.  😉

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“What?  You’ve never seen two ducks take a shower together?”

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“Okay, dear, once is enough for me, let me get out of the way!”

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Lots of bath times and preening around the pond.  A true delight!

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Black-bellied Whistling Duck

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And, yes, they do whistle to communicate.  Take a listen….

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Black-bellied Whistling Ducks audio recorded by Alexandre Renaudie

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Five On The Wing – #28

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Let’s continue with #28 of my series of five different bird species in flight!

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Mallards

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Great Egret

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Least Sandpipers

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Laughing Gull

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This next Caspian Tern gets double-billing for its quick maneuver and my quick clicks.  😉

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Caspian Tern

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Caspian Tern

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Bald Eagle Gallery

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We are all familiar with the easily identifiable adult plumage of our majestic Bald Eagle.

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Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle

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It takes approximately 5½ years for the Bald Eagle to attain full adult plumage.

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Bald Eagle

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Until then, juvenile and immature eagles go through a series of variable plumage.

Juvenile birds (½ year) have the least variable plumage with overall dark colors.

From 1½ through 4½ years of age, the plumages become more diverse and unpredictable, making it very difficult to actually age an immature Bald Eagle.

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Bald Eagle (immature)

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Bald Eagle (adult)

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Bald Eagle with something to say

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Bald Eagle (immature)

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Bald Eagle (adult)

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Bald Eagle (immature)

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Good look at coloring of this immature Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle (adult)

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This next eagle photo is a bonus treat.  I gave Grandson #2 his first real camera, a point-and-shoot with zoom lens, for his 6th birthday this past January.  During one of his recent sleepovers, he and I went to the refuge to count and shoot birds with his new camera.

It was very exciting when we spotted an Eagle that worked for him out his car window.  And how perfectly wonderful it works with my gallery here. 🥰 Grandma proud!

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KODAK Digital Still Camera

Bald Eagle
(taken by Grandson #2, age 6)

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(All photos taken at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Rock Hall, Maryland)

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Red-bellied Woodpeckers – Home Sweet Home

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A few weeks ago I discovered an easy-to-view tree where a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers are residing.  What’s really cool is the double-hole entry, with the main entrance having a shelf mushroom ‘awning’.  The male does the excavation, he was surely aiming to please with this setup!

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Red-bellied Woodpecker nest

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On May 11th, I was able to determine the woodpecker pair were incubating eggs, and have since been checking up on them, hoping for some action.

Here’s a series, changing egg duty.

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Mrs Woodpecker returning after a break

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“Are you ready to switch?”

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It didn’t take two seconds for the answer, almost side-swiping the Mrs!

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (female) returning inside the nest to incubate

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And she disappears….

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Inside “home sweet home”, there is an excavated nest cavity approximately 8.5″ to 13″ (22 to 32cm) deep with a cylindrical living space of about 3.5″ x 5.5″ (9 x 13cm).  The adult woodpecker itself is 9.4″ long (24 cm).

The leftover wood chips are used to create a bed to lay the eggs upon.

Clutch size:  2-6 eggs
Incubation:  12 days
Nestling time:  24-27 days

With my last days’ visits and knowing it’d been two weeks since I noted egg incubation, the adult in the cavity is now calling constantly, as well as seen leaving the nest to scramble around the trunk then return.  Little ones are being fed.

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Male wondering where the Mrs is, the babies need to be fed!
(taken yesterday)

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Male returned to pass food, then gave me a quick pose before another quick take-off

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In my last shot, you can see a feather inside the second entrance.  I’m hoping to be sharing photos of the little ones in a couple weeks, with fingers crossed there are little heads popping out of both entrances.  That’d be double-special!

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Posing Pretty

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Another gallery of my recent bird encounters, not as many this time!  😉

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Song Sparrow – Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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Carolina Wren – Eastern Neck NWR

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Northern Mockingbird – my backyard

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Blue Grosbeak (male) – Eastern Neck NWR

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Blue Grosbeak (female) – Eastern Neck NWR

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Northern Cardinal (male) – Eastern Neck NWR

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Canada Geese parents and two goslings

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Chipping Sparrow – Eastern Neck NWR

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House Finch (male) – my backyard

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Double-crested Cormorant – Love Cove Marina

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Spotted Sandpiper (back) and Least Sandpiper – Chesapeake Farms Wildlife Drive

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Solitary Sandpiper – Chesapeake Farms Wildlife Drive

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Eastern Kingbird – Eastern Neck NWR

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Eastern Wood-Pewee – Eastern Neck NWR

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I had such a delightful encounter with an Eastern Meadowlark who seemed quite curious of me, allowing lots of photo ops.  I ended my last post with one of its captures, I thought befitting to give another kudos to my five-minute buddy.  🙂

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Eastern Meadowlark – Chesapeake Farms Wildlife Drive

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Birds Galore

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Migration is in full swing!  Not only have I picked up 20 new lifers in past few weeks, I was able to photograph five of them to my delight.  🙂

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Great Cormorants (#258) on Bloody Point Bar Lighthouse
(taken from Kent Point Marina parking lot)

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Whimbrel (#259), Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

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Wilson’s Snipe (#260), Chesapeake Farms

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Chimney Swift (#261), my backyard

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Solitary Sandpiper (#262), Chesapeake Farms

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Now on to a bunch of better photos; maybe you’ll find one of your favorite bird species.  🙂 

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Field Sparrow, Eastern Neck NWR

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Carolina Wren, Eastern Neck NWR

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Tree Swallow, Eastern Neck NWR

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Tree Swallow, Eastern Neck NWR

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White-throated Sparrow, my backyard

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Mourning Dove, my backyard

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Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Neck NWR

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Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Neck NWR

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Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Neck NWR

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Great Crested Flycatcher, Shipyard Landing

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Orchard Oriole, Shipyard Landing

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Bobolink (male), Chesapeake Farms

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American Goldfinch (male), Eastern Neck NWR

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American Goldfinch (female), Eastern Neck NWR

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Black-throated Blue Warbler (male), Chesapeake Farms

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Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Eastern Neck NWR

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Blue Grosbeak (male), Eastern Neck NWR

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Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Neck NWR

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White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Neck NWR

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Northern Parula, Eastern Neck NWR

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Least Sandpipers, Eastern Neck NWR

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Spotted Sandpiper, Chesapeake Farms

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Indigo Bunting (male), Shipyard Landing

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Black-bellied Plovers, Chesapeake Farms

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Eastern Bluebirds, Chesapeake Farms

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Eastern Meadowlark, Chesapeake Farms

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I’ll stop here, whew!  Thank you for making it to the end!

More to come…..  🙂

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Proud Momma Wood Duck

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the world. ❤️

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Female Wood Duck and her ducklings

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(Photo taken at Eastern Neck NWR on April 30, 2022)

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