I have had some marvellous questions about duck breeding behaviour and questions about the ducklings. I hope that the following information is of good use. I am not an expert. But I have a stack of books on my desk by people who are! The comments are generalizations for all waterfowl and might vary a little with Daisy, our beautiful Pacific Black Duck.
In December of 2020, Daisy and her mate came to inspect the nest of the White-Bellied Sea Eagles. It is the only time – to the best of my knowledge – that he has been seen on the streaming cam. Daisy will have chosen her mate several months before breeding. The pair stay together and, when the time comes for breeding, they will have travelled to the female’s territory. The term for females returning to their home nesting area (as opposed to males) is called philopatric. Daisy will have picked the spot to nest. Daisy has laid one egg a day. When Daisy has laid her last egg, she will incubate the eggs day and night with no help from her mate. After several weeks the ducklings will begin peeping inside the shells and all will hatch at about the same time.
So what do these ducklings do once they hatch? They will remain in the nest with Daisy for approximately 24 hours. Daisy will stand on the rim of the nest and jump down. She will call to the ducklings who will each jump from the nest to the forest floor. They will then follow Daisy to the Parramatta River. They hatch with fluffy down and the ability to feed themselves. This is known as precocial – leaving the nest with the ability to take care of oneself soon after hatching. The ducklings are fully capable of feeding themselves. Daisy will stay with her brood until they are able to fly. At that time, they are on their own. While the ducklings are with her, they will gather around for protection and warmth.
It is now 16:19 in the Sydney Olympic Forest. The wind can be heard on the camera and the nest is moving about noticeably. There is thunder and it is getting closer. The time for the thunderstorm and high winds, according to the local weather in Sydney, is right now – and for the next hour. Yesterday Daisy stayed throughout the storm before leaving the nest at 18:04:04.
So far there are no predators today and several times the cam operator has checked to see if the WBSE were at the River Roost and they weren’t. That does not mean that Dad could not fly in at any moment.
Here are some images from the late afternoon of our beautiful Daisy.
At 17:37 a single Lorikeet arrives to see Daisy.
There is a forecast for a thunderstorm at 18:00 and rain for at least the next while.
At 18:22 a lone Noisy Miner comes to visit. Goodness.
It is only a few minutes after the Noisy Miner that thunder can be heard along with some big drops hitting the camera. By 19:15, Daisy is very wet as is the nest.
I thought maybe Daisy had laid all of her eggs and was now into hard incubation but she began preparing to leave.
You will see that Daisy is having trouble covering her 7 eggs.
Someone did a short video of Daisy trying to cover her eggs.
Daisy was lucky that the weather has kept the Ravens away. Her eggs are still there in the middle of the night.
We must hope that Daisy is not going to lay many more eggs — or that a large number of leaves are blown off that tree. Once she begins hard incubation she will have to leave to eat and take a break. That is when she had problems with Dad and Lady last time and then the Ravens saw the eggs because of not enough material, once it got wet, to cover them properly. They were close to hatching. An hour at a time. Daisy should be arriving for Day 8 before sunrise. She will get a chance to get on the eggs before any of the predators come around. I will bring an update on Day 8 later today. Send Daisy lots of good energy!
Thank you so much for joining me. It is nice to have you hear. Take care, see you soon.
Thank you to the Sea Eagle@BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots.