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

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cavity Nesters of Hazel Wolf Wetland

Ted Burris at Hazel Wolf Wetland

Before you read any further you should check out this video link to a Wood Duck nesting box in near Richland, Washington, the link was forwarded by Ted Burris.


The young ducklings have just hatched and are expected to leave the nest in the first day or so. Inside the nesting box are at least 9 ducklings. They can quite often be seen crawling around, under and over their mother. 

Update:  The young, Richland Wood Ducks have left the nest. They used the little claws on their feet to climb the wooden walls of the nest and one after the other hopped out into the world. Hopefully, the video will be repeated.

We are lucky to have multiple nesting boxes like this on Union Bay. In particular the one just S.E. of Foster Island is active and the eggs in that box should be hatching at anytime. (You can see proof of nesting on the video link in the Young Love post.) So not only is this Richland video fun to see but it is a great example of what to watch for on Foster Island.

This story began in March with the publication of the Ducks in Trees? post. Ted Burris saw the post, contacted me and graciously offered to take me along when he and Jim Nicholson did their spring check of their nesting boxes and cameras at the Hazel Wolf Wetland. 

Jim Nicholson at Hazel Wolf Wetland

Ted and Jim donate their time, funds and considerable effort to creating and maintaining nearly 50 nesting boxes. They do this work for a number of reasons:
  • They provide cavity nesting birds, like Wood Ducks and Mergansers, with places to reproduce. In nature the major source of nesting cavities of similar size results primarily from the work of the Pileated Woodpecker.
  • They take local high school students out to introduce them to the wonder of cavity nesting birds and their eggs.
  • They are providing input to scientists who are trying to determine if the "camo" on the nesting boxes reduces the number of eggs that are abandoned.
A couple of weeks ago the time arrived and I got the chance to see this operation in action.

This box was inhabited by the female merganser and her in-process, eggs.

As we worked our way around the wetland, Jim carried the ladder the whole way, there were repairs to be made to boxes,

 adjustments to cameras needed 

and beautiful flowers, trees and birds to be seen along the way.

Some boxes contained live birds and eggs and some did not. 

In this next case all but one of the eggs from last year hatched successfully and this single Wood Duck egg never realized its potential.

Ted and Jim told a number of interesting stories as we circled the wetlands. From the bear that was captured on film as it inspected one of the nesting boxes, wanting eggs for breakfast no doubt, to the stories of high school students developing a life long love of nature as they learn about what really happens in the wetlands.

If you would like to learn more here are two links to pages that Ted maintains about their work.

Volunteers like Ted and Jim deserve our respect for all the hard work they do to help nature perserver and even thrive in a world of human-induced changes.

Thank you both!


PS: Time to go. I don't know about you but I am heading out to Foster Island hoping to see our local Wood Duck Ducklings as they leave the nest. From watching the live feed above I know this will be a very quick process. So if you are the lucky one who actually sees the process please leave a comment below or send in photos if you are very lucky. Thank you!


  1. Thanks Larry for your generous comments. The Richland "live feed" this morning was exciting to watch. I barely sat down with a cup of coffee and logged on and it was "Going Down".
    I did get a note from the I/B Bio Class Teacher at Skyline yesterday. She had the live feed on all day for all her classes and the kids loved it. Stuff like that "counts" when you are growing up. Heck it "counts" when you are 62 years old!

    Thank you for your help on our project. I'll keep you in the loop, especially when we clean-out the boxes in Fall. That's a good teaching moment for sure.

    1. Thank you! It was wonderful to hear the stories, see the boxes, cameras & eggs and visit the birds in their nesting habitat. Keep up the good work!