Archive for November 21st, 2012

Going to the city to see Wildlife

Posted by heidi08 On November - 21 - 2012Comments Off

Martinez knows all about that phenomenon right?

Matthew Studebaker Photo

A birding irony

Despite Vermont’s plentiful habitats, getting up close and personal with Wood Ducks is difficult

Here is the irony: when I want to get up close and personal with the Wood Duck, I go to a large city park in a big city: the Wissahickon in northwest Philadelphia. I hear planes high overhead. I hear a distant rumble of buses from the busy avenue. I also hear the rattle of the kingfisher, the quacking of the Mallards, the drumming of woodpeckers, and the whistle of the Wood Duck. And I come home with dozens of images of a bird which doesn’t look quite real.

Chris Petrak’s lovely introduction to this ornate bird concerns us for two reasons. One because the dedicated creation of duck boxes to lure them into urban settings has been the life’s work of our very good friend Brian Murphy of Walnut Creek Openspace who knows where they nest in Broadway Plaza and San Ramon and was one of our only displays at the very first beaver festival and has been with us every year since.

And two because of this excellent paragraph:

With the return of the forests in Vermont, and with beaver ponds scattered through our hills and valleys, the Wood Duck has made a significant recovery in our state. It is a cavity nester, using holes in large, partially rotting trees, or which have been excavated by pileated woodpeckers. Humans have helped significantly by providing artificial cavities in the form of Wood Duck nest boxes.

Perfect! Because a happy wood duck loves nothing so much as a brooding beaver pond and where you find one you will almost certainly locate the other. Mitchell the eagle scout installed several duck boxes along the creek but they have sadly been unused as yet. Perhaps because the water content is too salty for these birds below the secondary dam? We may yet have some other obligate nester use them, like the estuary-appreciating common merganser.

Still nicely done for Skip Lisle’s home state to recognize that tolerating more beavers means enjoying more wood ducks!