The Wildlife Center receives many more Wood Ducks and Black Bellied Whistling Ducks than their populations in the wild would imply. Speculation about this phenomenon centers around the fact that both species perch in trees and prefer to nest in tree cavities.
All ducks nest near a water source or wetland, but perching ducks have a “bird’s eye view” of water sources that ground nesting ducks wouldn’t normally notice. The problem is that the parent ducks don’t take into account that there are fences or roads between their tree and the water source. Babies sometimes slip under a fence or into a pool where parents cannot retrieve them.
What to do if you find unchaperoned ducklings. First, look to see if you can spot a parent and the other ducklings. If so, scoop up the wayward duckling(s) and release them near their siblings. If it is early in the day and there are no nearby predators – give the parents a few hours to reunite. If it is late in the day or the ducklings are threatened place them in a box and bring them to the Wildlife Center.
What can you do to help this situation? Both species of duck will use nest boxes. The nest box should be placed in a location that has an unimpeded path to the water. If you are interested in building a nest box, click here. Both species of duck are territorial and a touch lazy. If there are too many nest boxes, a female will “dump” her eggs into someone else’s nest box. She may think she’s done her duty without having to sit on the eggs, but in nest boxes with two or more clutches none will incubate properly.