Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ducks in Trees

One morning last May I was out on a morning walk in the fields when I saw a sight I had never seen before: a pair of ducks sitting in a tree. The sun was rising behind them, so I couldn't make out any field marks, but it was clear they were ducks, and, I thought, everyone knows, ducks don't perch in trees!

Well, of course, it turns out that several species of duck do perch in trees, in particular the wood duck, which these turned out to be. Wood ducks nest in cavities in trees, sometimes far from water. And after the ducklings hatch (precocial, as all ducks are, meaning they come out of the shell ready to go), they jump from the tree and are lead by their mother overland to water, where they live (unless eaten) until they are able to fly.

I saw that particular pair of ducks several times over last spring, but did not discover if or where they nested.

This morning I set out for a walk, striding up the hill to the field, and startled a pair of wood ducks that were perched in a tree in the neighbour's backyard. I didn't get much of a look, but I caught up with them again in the swamp in the cedar bush. Perhaps they'll nest there this year.

In the scrape there is a low spot that is a small pond for at least a month or two in the spring. The night before last, its banks were the dancing ground for a woodcock, but this morning, as it is many spring mornings, it was a resting and meeting place for mallards. The picture below shows (not terribly distinctly) two mallard drakes leaving the pond as I came up.

Brothers in Flight


allnaturalman said...

i love the stories and the pictures. i too walk the walk and enjoy the nature. keep up the fine blog.


Anonymous said...

I just had the same experience finding a pair of ducks roosting in a small patch of woods near my home in Liverpool, NY. I couldn't tell what kind they were because of the light, but Wood Ducks are the only ones I know of in our area that roost in trees.

Unknown said...

I had never heard of a Wood Duck until today, when I googled " ducks in trees". This morning, I saw two ducks in a tree in my backyard. I had never heard of a duck in a tree!Now I know. It appears that they are nesting there!

Elk River, Minnesota

Anonymous said...

May 3, 2009 Thank you so much for the information. For the first time in my life I watch two ducks fly above me, head straight to a tree, and land there. I, too, thought ducks would never be found sitting in trees! In just two weeks I've seen this 3 times since then. So I Goggled 'ducks in trees'. Also, men cutting down a very old, very large tree in my backyard said they found duck eggs in a hallow limb, which they took to incubate. Poor mom must be looking for her eggs.

Anonymous said...

I was walking on my property this afternoon and when I walked under a row of trees, my dog barked and I heard a noise up above me. It was about 10-12 ducks. They flew out of the trees. They looked like wood ducks, but I was not sure , until I read ur article. Cool. I was wondering. I never heard of a duck roosting in a treet.

Anonymous said...

last after walking in our woods and having a # of beers i saw 2 ducks sittin in a tree no more beer?
to nite i saw 2 ducks in the creek then fly into a tree the one had a colored head more beer ?

Anonymous said...

May 8, 2014 - Lancaster, MA

I was surprised when a duck jumped off the ground in a neighbor's yard. They feed birds, so there are always many wild birds. The bird flew like a duck and surprised me when it perched on a branch. I was not able to confirm the species, but it was definitely a duck.

Never saw this before.