Wood Duck Family
During late spring a silence falls over wooded ponds in upstate NY. The pair bond is dissolved between drake and hen Wood Ducks and they no longer spend time together. The drakes are heavily molting, losing their flight feathers and hiding from predators. Hens are scarce because they are nesting. Sitting in my blind in the spring of 2015, the pond felt desolate and lonely. One afternoon, after hours of quiet, I looked to my left to see a hen Wood Duck swimming in my direction. I was surprised to see her until she turned. Behind her, seven tiny ducklings followed her lead, one riding shotgun on her tail feathers (six visible in this image). The troupe swam across the pond in front of me and then out of view. The encounter was fleeting, lasting only 20 seconds. But it will remain forever etched in my memory, my first encounter with a family of Wood Ducks. Suddenly, the pond was alive with new life and would be lonely no more.