Readers’ wildlife videos

Reader Tara Tanaka (vimeo site here, flickr site here) has sent two—count them, two—new videos for us to see.  Be sure to watch them on the vimeo site in high-definition and full screen (click on “vimeo” at lower right”).

The first is one of my favorite subjects: ducklings making the Leap of Faith from their nesting box down to the water. This video has some great slow-motion bits showing the leaps. Tara’s notes:

This morning, in a heavy mist that really made me appreciate my weather-sealed cameras, ten one-day old Black-bellied Whistling Ducks [Dendrocygna autumnalis] took that huge leap of faith to join their parents below. They would have been diving onto dry ground until yesterday, when we had over 4″ of rain, bringing our 4-day total to 7″, all much-needed by the swamp.

This is the fifth brood that this pair has hatched, including two last year. Their first jumping was almost more excitement than I could stand (see that video here).

This afternoon I was walking through the living room and looked up to see the parents bringing all ten babies halfway to the house so they could eat corn, but when they saw me they rushed them back to the water, which is much safer and filled with natural plants and yummy insects. I’m looking forward to watching them grow up this summer.

JAC: note that the ducks spread out their legs and wings when leaping, a parachute behavior that undoubtedly slows their descent:

And two duck species meet! Here’s “Two-day old Black-bellied Whistling Ducks meet two-week old Wood Ducks”:

This pair of Whistling Ducks has usually waited until their babies were at least two weeks old to bring them up into the yard, but this afternoon I was treated to some great views, even though I had to crawl on my stomach across the living room and slip up behind my camera that was already set up in the window to keep them from seeing me. Not long after they were in the yard there was a brief confrontation between the Whistling duck father and a Wood duck [Aix sponsa] mother, who quickly took her six two-week old ducklings back to the water. The father continued to chase away any duck that got close to his new family. Wood duck hens incubate and raise their ducklings alone; however,  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks take turns incubating, and then raise their ducklings together, like geese.


  1. Randy schenck
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Great video of this duck world. Noticed the safety tin on the pole under the duck house in the first video.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Thanks Randy! It’s a predator guard to keep rat snakes and raccoons out of the box, and has become an important part of our strategy to keep one of their worst threats, fire ants, out of the box. As hatching nears the ants either smell or hear the babies, and will make their way across vegetation if the post is in the water, or directly up from the ground during droughts, and kill the newly hatched babies. We’ve caulked the small space between the posts and the baffles and now spray the posts with ant spray under the baffle. It doesn’t get near the ducks, and is protected from rain by the caulked baffle.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Very interesting and crucial.

      • Mark R.
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        Fire ants killing ducklings? The nerve! And very odd to find this to be true.

      • Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:02 am | Permalink

        Are they not natural predators of the ducks?

        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 7:29 am | Permalink

          Fire ants aren’t native, but then neither are Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, so it could be that they are natural predators where they are native.

          I’ve read different accounts of how BBWD’s got here – some that they’ve just moved north from S. America, and another story that some got loose in Tampa.

  2. BJ
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    They’re like little fluffy paratroopers that jump into water! I’ts adorable!

  3. Andrea Kenner
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I liked the photobombing squirrel in the second video!

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Ha ha! And the pair that strutted by from “stage left” to “stage right” made me laugh!

  4. Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. I have not seen this species of duck before. They seem to have longer legs than other ducks.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      They have VERY long legs! I don’t think “black-bellied” would have been one of the terms I would have chosen to describe these unique ducks if I’d had the opportunity to name them.

  5. Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The “great leap” is worth millions! I was moved by the shy duckling who just stayed at the edge and hesitated until – as far as I saw – his last remaining sibling pushed him down.

  6. challedon
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Tara,it’s always a treat when a new video of yours is posted, your work is beautiful!

  7. Mark R.
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Loved these! There sure are a lot of nice noises in that swamp. So do Whistling ducks whistle? Or make sounds like whistling? If so, neat.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Mark! Yes, they do whistle, and you can actually hear them calling the babies out of the box – it’s that loud, repeated call while they’re jumping. I shot the 2nd video from inside the living room, and had to dub in sound (I used some from the 1st video) so that the viewer/listener would have natural sounds to listen to.

      • Mark R.
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        aha…and splendid. yes, I heard whistling. No lips needed apparently.

  8. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic videos, Tara! You have a fantastic view from your window. The wetland must give you great joy.
    Here in Australia we have a wood duck Chenonetta jubata that nests in tree hollows. They display similar behaviour and call the ducklings to leap from the nest to the ground where they are tended by both parents.
    Never trust your mother if you are a wood duck!

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much Barbara! Yes, after 24 years, I STILL can’t believe we live here.

      I’d never heard of that duck, but just looked it up and it’s beautiful. The body plumage reminds me a lot of our male Gadwall.

      Too funny! I’ve cleared the landing zone 50′ below the cavity where the Wood ducklings will land. We had some jump from the last Pileated cavity from about 20′ high last year. I didn’t get to see or video them, but knowing about when they were due I trimmed every potentially impaling stick to the ground and covered a large root with a big cushion of Spanish moss to give them a soft landing. Fingers crossed for the next brood to jump!

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