Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Young Love

Wood Ducks looking for love have many of the same experiences that we do. This male leaves no doubt about the strength of his feelings, but from the females point of view, maybe she questions his intentions or is less certain about her feelings for him.

Coming closer he seems to whisper sweet nothings in her ear.

But when he attempts to deliver "The Kiss" she pulls away, on the other hand at least she doesn't turn and run. Is she playing hard to get? Or maybe, just like with humans, when one partner becomes demanding the other just naturally pulls back.

Also like humans another factor in their relationships is the attractiveness of the partners. Somehow the males look more attractive when they are distracted with other tasks...

...or simply have other things on their minds.

Up close the mixture of colors, iridescent and otherwise, are truly impressive.

At first glance the female seems rather plain compared to the male. But a closer inspections shows that she has a number of subtle and attractive colors. If you would like an interesting challenge, close your eyes and in your mind count the number of colors you can remember on the female wood duck.

Generally one would think of female wood ducks as being brown and white. Clearly there are some additional colors. On the edge of the wing there are small but visible patches of blue and purple. Maybe the most subtle color is the hint of green on the top of the head. Did you notice the yellow coloring around the eye or on the foot? How about the black color of the eye and the beak? Did you come up with all seven colors?

As long as we are comparing colors take a look at differences in the last two photos. The coloring of the male and female heads are almost totally different. Here is one more challenge for you, What is the most significant similarity? (We'll come back to this later.)

After young love has run its course the next step, just like with humans, is finding a place that is just right for raising the young. A few weeks ago the Ducks in Trees post showed a female wood duck checking out a old flicker nest to see if it would meet her standards. 

These two females are actually checking out a much smaller nesting site.
On the opposite side of the this tree is a starling nest. It has been built in what appears to have originally been a Downy Woodpeckers nesting site. The access hole into the nest looks like it is about the size of a half dollar. There is no way the Wood Ducks could possibly fit in the nest, but once again just like humans, some things have to be learned the hard way.

This photo was taken as one of the females approached to inspect the starling nest.
Even though this photo lacks light and color there is something impressive about the graceful way she perches, its almost like she is dancing on the tree top.

This week the young birds were still looking for the perfect nesting site.

The male thinks maybe he has found it,

But it turns out that it is up to the female to do the actual home inspection, be sure to watch the process all the way to the end.

Clearly, wood ducks and humans share another quality, we both learn by trial and error. In case you are wondering it looks like the nesting box is already occupied and that the female in charge is not entertaining guests e.g. no room in the inn. Young love can certainly be challenging.

Have a great week!


Odds and Ends:

The most significant similarity between the heads of the male and female wood ducks, is not one of the colors, but rather the shape of their heads. The beaks are of similar size and proportion as are the eyes and for that matter the rest of their bodies as well.

Obviously when in the field watching their behavior, as mated pairs, following each other closely, staying side by side and inspecting nesting sites together these are the best indications that they are birds of a feather, so to speak.


  1. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for your comment!

  2. As always, inspiring to see your beautiful photography and to be reminded of how lucky we are to have such an incredible backyard. Thank you!

    1. I agree completely. Hopefully, we can continue to sustain and even improve nature in the city of Seattle.

  3. Always enjoy your posts, Larry - thanks so much for your beautiful and descriptive photos, videos and dialogue.

    1. You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to comment!