emale Wood Ducks have more muted plumage, but a white eye ring and delicate feather patterns make them especially lovely too.
One of the most important components to raising wild baby animals like these ducklings is to make sure each baby grows up with members of his or her own species. WildCare never raises babies alone, and contact with humans is kept to a minimum.
So when we admitted a rare Wood Duck patient in July of 2015, we knew we would need to find companions for her. Fortunately, International Bird Rescue had also admitted some Wood Ducks and the decision was made to transfer their ducks to us, rather than send our duckling to them.
International Bird Rescue has been overwhelmed with emaciated pelagic (ocean-going) birds called Common Murres this summer (click to read why these birds are washing up on our beaches!), so we were happy to accept their non-pelagic orphaned ducklings to be raised at WildCare
But unlike other ducks, Wood Ducks require a flight aviary with perches in addition to a pool in which to swim. Tight space constraints at WildCare's current facility make arranging a proper enclosure a challenge, but we managed to find space for this quartet.
In the video above you'll see our four patients prepping for flight practice-- an exercise WildCare staff and volunteers implemented daily to build the birds' flight muscles and give them practice maneuvering and alighting on various perches.
In our new Wildlife Hospital, WildCare will have space to create ideal enclosures for species like Wood Ducks without having to move and relocate other patients that also need a flight aviary. We can't wait! Click to learn more about WildCare's future new home and our Capital Campaign to raise funds for it.
After almost exactly two months in care, these handsome birds had started developing their adult plumage, had demonstrated that they could fly with ease in tight quarters, and that their toes were strong for perching. They were ready for release!
Fortunately, perfect Wood Duck habitat existed just over the hill from WildCare at the San Geronimo Golf Course. One of their ponds had hosted Wood Ducks in the past, and the maintenance manager at the golf course knew where Wood Duck nesting boxes had been hung.
These birds nest naturally in cavities in trees, but are happy with nest boxes when a natural cavity cannot be found.
The mid-September morning was gorgeous and sunny, and the release of the ducks went beautifully. We hope they'll make their permanent home at the golf course for many years to come! Watch them fly free in the video below.