There’s something about baby animals that just make our hearts smile! This week, our selected photographer Jay Black displays young wildlife at its finest in this adorable, lively duckling. The fluffy wetland citizen frolics in the open waters, looking to the sky as though it is ready to explore the next frontier. The delightful moment was captured in the urban wetland of Stanley Park.
The precious duckling pictured here will eventually grow up to become the colourful and majestic Wood Duck (Aix sponsa). Iridescent green and purple feathers and a careful distribution of white stripes atop crested heads make male wood ducks highly recognizable. These are very vocal birds: females utter an “ooo-eek” while males give a high-pitched “jeeeEEE”.
Wood Ducks select habitats in riparian and wetland environments and make nests in tree cavities where females may lay up to 15 white eggs. The females have also been known to lay eggs in the nest of other wood ducks. When the ducklings are only a few days old, their mothers will call them to hop out of the nest. There have even been reports that wood ducklings can survive drops up to 290 feet, but I strongly discourage further research.
It’s hard to imagine that this iconic species was once near extinction, but in the early 1900s overhunting and the destruction of their habitat ( dead wood, snags along riparian wetland) led to their near demise. Wood ducks are an outstanding example of how proper habitat management and low-technology solutions can rehabilitate a doomed population. The construction and careful insertion of board boxes into ponds and marshes have restored Wood Duck populations in many places. Burnaby Lake boasts one of the highest populations of Wood Ducks in the Lower Mainland, in large part due to their successful Wood Duck nest box program. These Wood Duck nest boxes are now widely used by conservation groups like the BC Wildlife Federation!
This year, the BCWF has teamed up with the Mission Rod and Gun Club to help enhance Mill Lake’s wildlife habitat. We’ll be working together to build and install Wood Duck boxes as well as Bat Houses in order to support this healthy ecosystem. Mission also happens to be the site of our next Wetlandkeepers workshop which is at maximum capacity due to the growing enthusiasm and compassion for wetland conservation.