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Posts Tagged ‘wood duck house’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Linda at A Word Edgewise.

We’ve been watching our wood duck nest box for months. The first clutch did not hatch. Overcoming our disappointment, we set out new wood shavings and hoped for the best. By and by, another wood duck hen came in and laid 18 or so eggs. (Maybe it was two hens?) Nevertheless, we watched again. She seemed to be doing it all right, turning the eggs, covering them in down before leaving to feed, and sitting, sitting, sitting.

Yesterday morning my husband texted and said, “Look in the house.” (I am away from home this week.) When I looked at the video on my phone sent from the camera in the nesting box, I saw three dark blobs. At first I was afraid they were dead, but eventually realized that hatching is hard work, so they lay still.

We are both proud parents of 12 wood ducklings. Today was Jump Day. At 7:30 AM, Momma went out and called her babies. They climbed the wire mesh my husband had nailed into the wall nearest the hole. One by one they reached the hole and jumped out.

A poem will come, I’m sure. Yesterday, Laura Purdie Salas posted her 15 Words or Less image and I wrote this little ditty.

Ripple Effect

One egg hatches
then another.
Soon the whole nest
is chattering.

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

Jump Day! Photo by Danny Womack

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Carolina wren nest in the school garden.

It’s that time of year. Yes, we are in the last week of school and instead of nesting, I am de-nesting, if that’s even a word, but in the natural world, it is nesting time.

Out in the school garden, we were planting sister seeds, sunflowers and beans. Our garden sponsor explained that while the stalk of the sunflower is thick and tall, the beans grow on a thin vine that will wrap around the sunflower stalk. They help each other. I love this and was anxious to get our seeds into pots for my students to take home for the summer.

There is a thick vine growing in the garden, a perfect hiding place for a nest. I heard little peeps and climbed on a bench style storage box to see a bird sitting on a nest. I scared her off and there were baby birds wide-mouthed and featherless in the nest.

I wasn’t sure what kind of bird it was, so I sent my students on a Google search to find it. We think she is a Carolina wren. There is something so marvelous and hopeful about a nest of baby birds.

If you’ve been following the wood duck drama, you know that we now have another clutch of eggs. The first clutch of eggs this spring, we believe, got too cold and died. We cleaned out the nesting box on Easter Sunday. Last week amidst end of the year activities, field trip and splash day, I didn’t check the doorbell camera much. (We mounted a doorbell camera on the roof of the house and can monitor the activity inside.) On Friday night as I was settling in bed, I heard an alert on my phone. It’s unusual for the female to go into the box at night. Unless there are eggs!

I was so excited to see that she had been busy all week laying a new clutch of eggs. She’s been sitting on them every night since. Yesterday she spent the whole day in the house. I think it’s safe to start counting the days. These eggs should hatch around June 16th. Fingers crossed. Prayers said.

Wood duck hen in a nesting box.

On Twitter last week, Amy VanDerwater tweeted an article from the New York Times about the devastation of climate change and the things we can do. In my small corner of the world, I am nurturing these nesting birds and am holding onto a bit of hope for the world.

And I can remind myself, all day long every day, that there’s a difference between doing something and doing nothing. That “something,” small as it might seem, is not “nothing.” The space between them is far apart, limitless stretching distances apart. It’s the difference between a heartbeat and silence.

Margaret Rinkle, Surviving Despair in the Great Extinction, May 13, 2019

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Some of you have been following our wood duck house story. In late February, my husband built a wood duck house and set it up near the bayou. We put a Ring doorbell camera inside to capture the whole process. We were amazed when a hen came in the very next day. It took her a few weeks to lay the eggs and begin sitting on them. I wrote about it here and here.

The last time I was able to count the eggs, I had counted 13 eggs.

The problem with using a Ring camera is, with the constant motion of a hen sitting fairly consistently, the battery runs down. We changed it out once with no problem, but Saturday afternoon, it had totally died. Because we couldn’t look at the camera to see if the hen was in the house, my husband spooked her when he went to change the battery.

She came back for a brief minute then flew back out at around 7:30 PM. After that, nothing.

Did she abandon the nest altogether? Alerts to motion come onto my phone. I usually turn off notifications during the night but I didn’t Saturday. We waited for the buzz of the phone. Nothing.

Sunday morning I looked out the window, saying a few prayers that she would return. I saw the couple in the water. I practically begged at the window, “Please go back in. Please go back in.”

She flew up and around the house and landed back in the water.

I woke up my husband who admits he wasn’t really sleeping. I said, “There must be some kind of sound coming from the camera to scare her like that.”

He said, “To hell with broadcasting, we need to save these eggs.”

But taking the camera out didn’t prove necessary. I heard a buzz on my phone. She’s back! She was in the box, settling in, poking around, as if nothing had happened. Whew! Relief!

Relieved to get this phone alert.

Jeff watched one of the videos from the camera and noticed that there was a hen perched at the hole flying out while another hen was in the box sitting. Could they both be sitting? Are they sharing the nest?

While our hen was away, I was able to get a shot of the eggs. She hadn’t had time to cover them before she left. I counted 20 eggs! Twenty!

If my calculations are right, and the 12 hour hiatus doesn’t change the incubation time, the eggs are due to hatch on or around April 11th. You know I will be posting. You can follow on my Instagram or Facebook page.

Now for poetry. I am playing with some fun poetry games. My students are playing along and posting on our Kidblog site.

With Paint Chip Poetry, I pulled honey, quicksilver, and under the sea. The prompt was “We’re all in this together.”

We’re all wild honey
under the sea
free and quick
like silver sparkles
together
making waves
splashing
sprays
whale family.

Margaret Simon (draft, 2019)

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Baker’s dozen wood duck eggs!

“There is motion at your wood duck house.”

It comes as an alert on my phone.  I can’t help but look.

Two weeks ago, we set up the wood duck house that my husband had made.  The next day a hen came.

We placed a Ring doorbell camera on the roof of the house, so anytime there is motion, the device records a video and sends it to my phone.  Incredible technology!

Incredible nature!

I marvel at how this bird knows exactly what to do.  For the last two weeks, she has come into the house daily.  In the morning, she flies in, rearranges the furniture, and lays a few eggs.  Then she leaves.

I’ve watched each day, and if she didn’t cover them up with the shavings, I can count the eggs.  The count approached a dozen.

I’ve been posting updates to my Instagram and Facebook accounts.  I wrote the first post about the house here.

Last night as we were having dinner, my phone buzzed.  This was unusual to get an alert at night.  And the alerts continued.

The wood duck hen came in at 7:09 last night, and she’s still there!

Now we count 29-31 days to hatching.  But the big day is the day after hatching when the baby ducklings climb up the side of the box and JUMP!  If it’s a school day, I will have to call in sick.

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Living on the Bayou Teche has many benefits.  In the fall we joined the T.E.C.H.E. Project, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the Bayou Teche.  In January, my husband Jeff attended one of their workshops on wood duck houses.  When he came home and started talking about it, I knew this was something we needed to do.  But the idea brewed for a while until I got a text from a friend who lives downstream.  She had set up a Ring camera in her wood duck house and a hen had come in.  She sent me the video, and I was sold.

The next day we toured her wood duck set up, and Jeff said, “We can do this!”  He found the wood he needed and got to work.  We took a trip to Costco to buy the Ring device.  It’s intended for use as a doorbell.  So genius!  It connects through your Wifi and sends motion detection with video to your phone.  What will they think of next?!

This weekend Jeff finished the house and got the pole in the ground.  We set up the Ring device and had it all ready by 4:00 PM on Sunday.

On Monday morning while I was hurriedly getting ready for school (I always run late on Monday!), I got an alert on my phone, “Movement detected at the wood duck house!”  Already!

Sure enough, a hen had come inside and posed for the camera.  When we looked outside, though, we noticed Buzz, our outside cat guarding with watchful eye.  “On Jump Day, Buzz will be in the shed,” Jeff said.  Jump Day happens on the day after the eggs hatch.  All the little ducks jump out to the water.  I’m so glad we invested in the camera, so we can keep an eye on this whole process.

 

 

Buzz keeps an eye on the wood ducks.

 

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