Update 4-26: Mrs. Ace
April 27: Mrs. Ace update

Wood ducks: The untold story


       The wood ducks at the Celery Farm are in abundance -- and apparently still in house-hunting mode.

    Yesterday a couple of friends and I stood on the Warden's Watch and witnessed the results of a tight housing market.

    As you can see in the photo above, there are two pairs of wood ducks and just one box.

   Moments before, the male wood duck in the water had been driven from the top of the box.

   Moments later, the wood duck pair on top of the box evicted the female pictured here in the box's opening.

   Here's what likely was going on.

   More than one female is trying to use the nesting box to lay her eggs.

   Typically, wood ducks lay from 8 to 10 eggs, but in some places, boxes with as many as 40 eggs have been found. It's the result of something known as "egg dumping."

  [For more on wood ducks and egg dumping, see this link: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/birdhouse/bios/sp_accts/wodu]

   At the Celery Farm, two of the nesting boxes -- including the one in the photo -- are smaller than the others, in an effort to reduce the number of eggs hatched inside.

   It also makes this piece of real estate all the more valuable.