Baby Hoodies: Several years ago I had a box of Hoodies, was able to see them
leave nest box, after watching them swim away I opened box and there was
still one little guy in box. So I interfered with nature and helped it out
of box and placed it in water. Mom & siblings where no where around, maybe
45 minutes since brood had left the area. Beaver pond is large but not so
much that I thought it would find brood, do not know if Mom would have every
come back and check box to see if anyone got left behind or how long a
straggler could survive in box. Young hoodie was swimming in area around
box the rest of summer, grew to adulthood. It survived on its own, I did
not see it with rest of brood. Maybe after starting out on its own it did
not retain the instinct to stick with Mom, or maybe that lack of instinct to
leave box on Mom's call is what got it in the spot in the first place? But
it sure did figure out how to survive on its own, happy ending for that
duckling. Nancy from swamp near Danby Pond
From: "Pat Folsom" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 10:16 AM
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Merganser Mystery
> 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
>> happens to your nest, maybe a few young will survive from another nest.
>> it's possible that the young mergansers with no parent actually hatched
>> someone else's nest, such as a Wood Duck. Or perhaps the mother was
>> after the young hatched. Both of these possibilities seem more likely
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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,