This Mallard Mama Is Confused

When you find a duck nest in a cavity in a dead tree, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?  If you’re a birder, it’s Wood Duck.  Well, this mama is not a Wood Duck, but it looks like she may have been taking nest-building lessons from one.

I worry a little about how the chicks are going to get out when they hatch; the nest is at least a good eight feet above the forest floor, at the top of a small cliff overhanging the stream.

Wood Duck chicks are built to take a dive out of a tree as soon as they hatch, but are Mallard chicks, who usually hatch at ground level, as resilient?  Still, this is at least the second time these Mallards (or another equally nutty pair) have nested in this spot, so it must work for them.  After a bit of Googling I’ve discovered that maybe a Mallard nesting in a tree isn’t as unusual as I thought.  In any case, I can’t wait to see her and her brood hanging out in the pool below the waterfall.

UPDATE: Mama hasn’t been on her nest since the day this was posted, and there are what look like eggshell fragments on the ground at the base of the tree.  I haven’t seen her in the stream with a gang of ducklings, either.  Predation???

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