Thanks so much, I'm learning so much about the lives of HOodies and Wood
Ducks. I know that the single baby's chance of survival is small. I know
he was still enjoying life, at the neighbor's pond last night. I hope he
stays there, much too dangerous to travel back and forth with an active
fox family in the neighborhood.
Just to clarify, I saw the single little Woodie two years ago, have not
seen any Woodies here this year. Sounds like the female Hoodie I saw was
not the mom. It's all very interesting.
Thanks again, hope to hear more,
> Pat's made some interesting observations on Hooded Mergansers. Here are a
> few ideas that relate to her questions. Besides tending to their own
> Hooded Mergansers commonly lay eggs in the nests of other cavity-nesting
> ducks, including Wood Ducks as well as other Hooded Mergansers. (Wood
> also return the favor.) You can think of it as a bet-hedging strategy -
> literally, don't put all your eggs in a single basket (nest). If something
> happens to your nest, maybe a few young will survive from another nest. So
> it's possible that the young mergansers with no parent actually hatched in
> someone else's nest, such as a Wood Duck. Or perhaps the mother was killed
> after the young hatched. Both of these possibilities seem more likely than
> the mother abandoning the young at a very early stage.
> While Hoodies usually nest right near a pond, suitable cavities aren't
> always available so females sometimes have to nest away from water. In
> case, the mother will lead the ducklings to water after they hatch -
> distances of more than a kilometer have been recorded. So the 1/8 of a
> between neighbors' ponds seems pretty reasonable for a duckling to travel,
> even if they seem ungainly out of the water.
> Survival of ducklings is pretty low, even with the protection of the
> (The fact that females commonly lay 9 or 10 eggs each year gives an idea
> how risky it is for ducklings.) However, young can feed themselves, and
> presumably the older and larger they get, the better their chances of
> it are. I suspect that from an evolutionary standpoint, females wouldn't
> invest the energy required to lay eggs in the nests of other duck species
> their young had no chance of making it on their own. So the duckling still
> may have a chance!
> -- Scott Schwenk
> South Burlington
> On Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 1:10 PM, Pat Folsom <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hi Birders,
>> I'm hoping some of you can give me some insight into this Hooded Merg
>> mystery (to me). I live on East Warren Rd in Waitsfield and have a
>> pond in my backyard. My neighbors also have a pond that is actually a
>> dammed up part of a brook and at least 1/8 of a mile away (as the duck
>> On June 17, my neighbors had three baby ducks on their pond, no mom with
>> them. They were there for a few days, dwindled to two, one, none.
>> June 23 - I found a single baby duck on my pond, I knew it was a
>> and determined it was a Hooded after looking at photos online and some
>> advice from friends. Baby was active, feeding, preening the next two
>> days. Two years ago I had a baby Wood Duck on the pond for four days,
>> mom came back one day with four sibs and they all waddled off into the
>> woods together. I thought the same thing might happen this time.
>> June 26 - A single female Hooded Merg on my pond early in the morning,
>> then I had to leave, so I don't know how long she was here. The first
>> only time I've seen her or any Hoodie on my pond this year. I did not
>> the baby with her and she was gone, but the baby still here when I
>> returned home.
>> June 27-28 - Baby continues to live alone in the pond, growing bigger.
>> the afternoon of June 28 at 3 PM, he disappears. At 6 PM I receive a
>> from the neighbor - there's a baby on her pond. I went over to take
>> photos, seems to be the same bird, definitely the same species and age.
>> Here are my questions:
>> Do mother Hooded Mergansers sometimes abandon their newborn?
>> What is the likelihood that the female was the mom that then rejected
>> How likely is it that this baby has moved from the neighbor's pond to
>> and back again on his own?
>> Does this baby have a chance of surviving to adulthood on his own?
>> Thanks for any insight you can give,