We monitored two nest boxes—typically used by cavity-nesting ducks—this spring at the DUC Fredericton office. They are located near a DUC wetland, where mother hens typically lead their ducklings shortly after hatching.
Nest cameras in both boxes put you up close with common goldeneye this year, tending to their clutches of eggs. The hens started laying in April, averaging one egg per day to fill the nest. But this did not guarantee a successful hatch for either brood! Predators and other ducks can pose a threat. If another cavity-nesting hen takes an interest in a nest-box, that hen may forcefully take it over or deposit some of her own eggs amongst the original clutch.
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The goldeneye hen in this nest box started laying her eggs in late April and began incubating them fulltime in May. The ducklings hatched on June 15, and soon after were led out of the nest box by their mother hen to a nearby wetland.
Beyond a nesting duck, the activity in this nest box included a couple of surprise visitors! Neither shown here stayed or disturbed the eggs, however it appears the nest was later raided by a predator and the hen has now moved on.
Fast facts about the common goldeneye
- Some common goldeneye will return to nest in the same nest box year after year.
- If a goldeneye hen abandons her brood, or it’s taken from her in a territorial fight with another hen, the ducklings may join up with another goldeneye brood. The mixed group is called a creche.
- Common goldeneye only gain their namesake eye colour as adults. Their eyes are brownish when they hatch, and later transition from purple to blue to green, and finally to yellow.
- The common goldeneye has the nickname of “whistler,” because of the whistling sound made by its wings.
Wood ducks in nest boxes
Before the common goldeneye claimed the nest boxes at the Fredericton DUC office, wood ducks were also checking them out. These nest boxes typically attract wood ducks, common goldeneye and hooded mergansers.
Fast facts about the wood duck
- Wood ducks are cavity nesters, choosing sheltered chambers like tree hollows and nest boxes, typically 10 – 60 feet high.
- Wood ducks typically produce 6 – 16 eggs in a clutch.
- Wood ducks sometimes practice brood parasitism, depositing their eggs in other ducks’ nests to be raised by that nest’s hen.
- Wood ducks typically incubate their eggs for 28-30 days.
- Wood duck ducklings jump from their nesting cavity within 24 hours of hatching, called to come down by their mother.
- Wood ducks are dabbling ducks that eat mostly seeds, acorns, fruits and invertebrates.