This is the time of year we begin to see the duck and goose families venturing out in the wetlands and ponds. The young are precocial, meaning they can walk and run immediately after hatching, but still depend on their parents for protection and for guidance on what is good to eat.
Follow the leader (in this case, a protective parent).
Yes, this is good to eat, not just to swim around in…
This is only half of this hen Wood Duck’s brood — the others are feeding on weeds closer to the shore.
But then they saw me and scampered over to mom for protection. Eleven of her hatchlings have survived so far; in this pond they might become snapping turtle bait.
Three male Wood Ducks were feeding in another pond away from the hen and her brood. Just as well, since he might attract too much attention with his gaudy color.
It’s interesting that various duck species leave the care of the ducklings entirely to the female, while both male and female Canada Geese are highly protective of their offspring (this might be true in other goose species as well).
It might take both parents to fend off the frequent dogs that run around this park. I’m dismayed to see the dogs not only off-leash, but jumping into the water to fetch sticks thrown by their owners, quite near the birds swimming around there.