The Wood Duck
The Wood Duck, our HNC journal, is available to HNC members, and comes out nine times a year. Each 'Duck' contains 24 pages of illustrated articles ranging from bird records, to dragonfly counts, to environmental issues, to South American adventures. (View recent article.)
The Wood Duck is now available on-line (immediately below). If you would rather read the Wood Duck online and no longer wish to receive a mailed copy, e-mail our Membership Director and ask to have your mailed Wood Duck discontinued.
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Archived issues of The Wood Duck can be found at the bottom of this page.
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We are always looking for articles, photos, and artwork from local nature enthusiasts!
A Recent Wood Duck Article
By June Hitchcox, from the October 2010 issue of the Wood Duck
Photo: Mourning Dove
The pair of Mourning Doves that built an unusually tidy nest on the top edge of the cedar hedge which surrounds our patio were not successful the first time around.
One day there were no eggs, shells or adult. A huge maple tree is high over head and from there, it would be easy to spot the nest. However, they tried again, using the same nest. From above, it would be now difficult to see the nest, the hedge having grown up a foot or so.
Because the passageway to the back garden is about 6" from the nest, the adults and I have become quite friendly. We look each other in the eye as I pass through and I say "Hello". They aren't concerned, just stay perfectly still.
The male dove incubates the 2 white eggs during the day and the female at night. I have never heard them calling at night - perhaps they do - but from dawn to dark, the female, her turn off the nest, is regularly sending different messages. Her "co-ab, coo,. coo, coo" seems to me to be telling her mate that all is well. Her "oh^oh", (up and down) when someone is close to the nest appears to be saying "Keep watch, someone/something is near that may be trouble."
Both parents, as in all doves and pigeons, have evolved a neat way to feed their "squabs" (term for nestling doves and pigeons). Both the females and the males produce "crop milk", held in a storage pouch in the gullet. This "milk" is like a thick yogurt, very full of protein. When the squab is hungry, it sticks its bill down the parent's throat and the adult regurgitates the "milk" into the nestlings open mouth. After 3-4 days, small seeds and insects are introduced into the "milk".
I was amazed when looking at the parent - seemed to be just a few days - to see a squab beside her, almost the same size. Not long after that, all were gone.
The squab would be somewhere nearby, fluttering its wings to become strong enough to fly, learning how to perch and to forage on the ground for seeds - then it would be on its own.
There is now one white egg in the nest which was freshly laid. The parents were starting a new family even though they were still caring for the squab. For parts of the day, a parent would come and go and always be on the nest at night. Now the male is there all day. I was away from August 4 to 12. When I returned, the adults happened to be off the nest, making it easy to see the one small squab in the nest, about half the size of an adult.
By August 15, I could see the baby in the nest, sitting in front of its father, both looking at me, unafraid. By August 17, all had left the nest. That evening, there were two doves in a nearby tree, perched close together - one slightly smaller than the other. Both shivered from time to time and twined their heads around each other. They were probably going through a mating ritual but the smaller one looked like the dark baby that was in the nest and I have not found any information to confirm which it might be. They finally flew off, both good flyers.
And in just a few days, the adults were back to their nest and had started a new family! The hedge badly needs a trimming , but will have to wait until the doves stop having families. The area where the nest is, well-hidden now by the summer growth of the cedars, won't be trimmed because I would like to see if they come back to it next year and it will be still hidden as it is now. If they find it, chances are that it is the same pair. After all, we have become good friends by now!
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