Watch out... ducklings about!
Updated: Feb 4
One of the species of wildlife often seen around Oldbury Cottage is the Australian wood duck. This gregarious duck feeds on grasses, herbs and clover, mates for life, and mostly breeds between September and November.
A curious fact about the Aussie wood duck is that it nests in the hollows of trees at least 4 metres above ground, then within two or three days of the ducklings hatching, the mother encourages them to jump from the nest. Usually, there will be between 8 and 10 ducklings.
They are covered in waterproof down at this early stage and quickly head for a body of water, where they are safe from ground based predators.
This morning, a raft of 10 ducklings appeared on the pond at Oldbury House. For the next 6 or 7 weeks, until the ducklings are ready to fledge, they are incredibly vulnerable to attack from Currawongs and Kookaburras. They'll typically be found either sheltering in the grasses and May hedge in Oldbury Cottage's garden during the day, or they'll be on the water at Oldbury House.
The mother and father are extremely vigilant most of the time, keeping careful watch over their charges. But inexplicably, they will then disappear completely for short periods, and this is when predators get to work. We've more than once observed Currawongs working in pairs, attempting to separate a single duckling from the raft.
Male and Female Identification
The female wood duck is identified as having a lighter coloured head, with a white eyebrow and a second white stripe below the eye. The male’s back, rump, tail and belly are charcoal black, while its brown-grey breast is speckled with conspicuous black and white spots.