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Wood duck chicks follow mom in giant leap of faith

Wood duck chick leaping from its nest high above the ground.
Wood duck chick leaping from its nest high above the ground.

WATERFOWL -- Wood ducks nest in tree cavities (or nest boxes) high above the ground, but the chicks leave the nest before they can fly.

It's just another amazing feat of nature that -- just one day after they hatch --these delicate downy creatures can master a paraglider wing-suit-like jump on the first try, bounce on the ground like balls and then waddle to water with their mom like it's no big deal.

Here is footage from a web cam inside a wood duck nest box showing chicks following their mom out into the real world in Central Washington on May 16. The box is one of five web cams on nest boxes put out by Richland Rod & Gun Club members, including Dale Schielke, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's volunteer of the year.

The video below is from another part of the country, but it shows stunning footage of a wood duck jump from outside the nest.

Here's a note from Schielke detailing the duck-jump video from inside the RRGC box last week:

We have edited hours of pre-hatch recorded video into a short video of the jump for ducklings from Hen #22679.  The box this hen nested in was built and installed by Carmichael Middle School students from Mr Farley's Life Science classes.  The boxes they built were installed at the Barker Ranch on March 8th; the hen located the box and started laying her 11 eggs about April 5th;  incubation started about April 15th; 9 ducklings hatched out on May 15th; and the jump occurred at 1 PM on May 16th.  

This same hen occupied and successfully hatched 9 ducklings in 2015 from a box from last years classes at an adjacent location.  Last years "jump" was on May 18, 2015.  

We are looking forward to her return next year to the same location.  Congratulations students on contributing to the addition of 9 additional wood ducks to our wonderful world.  




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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