Reader’s wildlife videos

Tara Tanaka has struck video gold again with this heartwarming video of seven wood ducks (Aix sponsa) being set free. (Tara’s Vimeo site is here and her flickr site is here.)

Seven little ducklings were lovingly raised by the dedicated staff of St. Francis Wildlife in Tallahassee, FL during the summer of 2016. I picked them up at St. Francis on the day of this video, and at first they were just going to send six of them home with me and keep the 7th one – a female – since something had just happened to her flight feathers and they were afraid that she would be an easy target for a predator. We decided that she’d be better off with her peeps than alone in her flight cage at St. Francis, so we caught her and packed her up for her final time in a crate. When I got them home I took the big tub to the water’s edge, and very gently rolled it on it’s side so that when I opened the hinged lid that they would hopefully file out together, and not explode out, flying in every direction, which I unfortunately learned in a previous release. Everything went as planned and they slowly swam out in wide-eyed wonderment in their new home. The first 25s or so was videoed right after they were released, and the last clip was shot later that afternoon as they met the eight three-month old Black-bellied Whistling Duck juveniles who are the terror of the swamp. Ironically, the little raggedy hen who almost didn’t get to taste freedom was the one who chased off the Whistling duck, and flapped at the end. They’ve been here a month now and all seven are doing fine. “Raggedy’s” feathers are growing back, and her short flights are getting longer each day. She and a somewhat raggedy drake have really bonded (you can see them together at :42), and I’m so glad they are all together.

This video was shot in 4K with a Panasonic GH4 + Nikon 300mm f2.8 ED IF ais lens using manual focus.

For best results, go over to the Vimeo site and put it on full screen and 4K high definition.


  1. Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Wonderful to watch.
    These are truly great wildlife videos and I always take much pleasure in watching them.
    Thank you.
    We have black ducks and mallard on the brook which flows through our property and it always a pleasure to greet the returnees who will stay with us for the winter after their summer adventures. I have learned after much observation how to recognize individual ducks, something I did not think possible.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much! Yes, there are so many I can recognize too! They’re like family to me.

  2. GBJames
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Very fine.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Wood Ducks are exceptional. To watch them jump out of the water and land on a tree limb is something to see.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      They are really spectacular in their full breeding plumage. We had our first adult pair of the season at the edge of the swamp yesterday afternoon – I can’t wait for the rest to return.

  4. Christopher
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Cute. Wood Ducks are wonderfully common where my parents live on the Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri. It was fun to visit and see the little ones trailing behind the mother, but I was a bit confused and amused. At first, there were 5, maybe 7, wee ones, then later, at least 12, perhaps more, and then their numbers started shrinking again. Do wood Ducks “babysit” for each other?

    and on a side note, does your middle name continue the pattern of consonant-A-consonant-A-consonant…?

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Thanks Christopher! No, at least I’ve never seen any babysitting behavior. Is it possible that they were actually jumping out of their cavity and joining mom and their numbers increased, but later some were lost to predators? Over what period of time did you see this happen?

      And no, middle name only has one “a” :-).

      • Christopher
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Of course I didn’t take any notes; I’m a lazy amateur naturalist. I don’t remember the time frame since I was back and forth between there and KC Mo, with weekend and week-long visits. I can certainly understand the later thinning out of the ducklings as there’s no shortage of predators, but the growth in numbers didn’t happen, as best as I can recall, over a weekend, and certainly not a day, so I didn’t think it was just new babies jumping out of the nest and joining the family but I could have been wrong. I don’t know how long the hatching/nest jumping time frame is. Perhaps next year I will pay more attention. And honestly, I have no idea how many mated pairs were in our little cove or nearby coves on the lake. Are they territorial? They don’t let me get that close, and they frequently go around the point and out of the cove where I can’t view them.

        • Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          They are VERY protective, especially when the ducklings are young.

          The hatching usually occurs on one day, and they all jump the next day within about 5-15 minutes. Maybe you were seeing different broods.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Absolutely beautiful, and thank you for sharing. It looks to me that the young wood ducks have larger eyes.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Thank you Mark! Yes, you’re right – Wood Ducks have much larger eyes.

  6. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Watching this on full screen made me feel as if I was right there with them, on their level, not a distant observer, especially at the beginning when they’re in the water. I felt almost as if I could stick my nose into the water as if it were a duck’s bill, and muck about in the mud along with them. Love all the peeps and tweets and other avian sounds, too.

    And that “raggedy female” is a bold and feisty gal. Brava! to her.

    • Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink


      Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments! They are especially meaningful to me since I realize every day just how lucky I am to experience nature right outside my door, and I have a very strong desire to share that experience with others, and that you were able to feel what you did from the video means so much.

      I’m glad you noticed their sweet little sounds too. They were softer and different from the sounds I’d heard any other Wood Ducks make, and as I drove them home I heard them “talking” in their crate, and then they continued to make those little sounds when I released them. Whistling ducks (which are so aptly named) are very loud – you can hear one call in the video. Adult hen Wood Ducks also call very loudly, and drake Wood Ducks make an embarrassing little squeak at their loudest.

      Your comments made my day. I really just made this video for the staff at the wildlife rehab facility and Jerry saw it on FB – I had no idea so many people would enjoy it :-).


      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 12:43 am | Permalink

        In my estimation you’ve succeeded admirably in your aim. Much more than ‘simply’ exquisite video; it was an immersive experience. Very, very cool.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Beautiful as always Tara. What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it and the video. 🙂

  8. Andrea Kenner
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    My cat Daisy helped me watch the video!

    • Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      My friend’s cat loves to watch bird videos too!

  9. Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the wonderful start to my day, Tara! You’re terrifically good at what you do.

    So Raggedy is Scrappy too. Could she have become Raggedy from being Scrappy? 🙂 You must be quite relieved that you kept all the duckies together.

    • Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you so much SP for the nice words!

      I’m not sure what happened – she and her raggedy beau seem to preen a lot, and I don’t know if they might have picked up some parasite or maybe they developed some compulsive preening behavior from being indoors. They were in a VERY large cage, maybe 40′ x 25′. Yes, I am SO glad we set her free. I am fairly sure these 7 are from two broods, so I think Ann and Andy may be a couple.


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