Wood Ducks Hunting Damselflies

by Larry on October 24, 2010

Wood Duck Female photos by Larry Jordan

Last week at Lema Ranch, not only was I able to watch a Great Egret fishing (see previous post), but I watched Wood Ducks hunting damselflies!  Another behavior I had never seen before. Lema Pond was covered with hundreds of damselflies, many of them in tandem, and the ducks would assume this skimming pose trying to sneak up on the damselflies, then lunge at the insects.

I think these photos of the male Wood Duck show the stealth-like approach the ducks were using a little better

Over on the shore of one of the islands near the guest house, a Great Blue Heron was keeping its eye on the ducks in the shallows.

All the while Pied-billed Grebes were frolicking on Secluded Pond where I have seen them nesting in the past.

There is a small shallow area next to Lema Pond that turns into a mud flat when the water level is low and I found some Killdeer feeding there

As I was photographing this Killdeer, I heard something moving in the oak trees behind me.  It was a beautiful Red-breasted Sapsucker.  It was on the move but I managed to get one good shot of it as it gleaned the trees for insects.

I was happy to be able to do some scouting on this warm and sunny day before the Northern California Audubon Council meeting our chapter hosted here at the McConnell Foundation headquarters at Lema Ranch.  As it turned out, we had some precipitation yesterday morning for our 7:30 a.m. bird walk but a handful of birders braved the weather and counted thirty two species in the hour before the meeting began.

In contrast to the rain we are enjoying now, the day I scouted the ranch, just last week, the birds were gathering under the trees, at the drip irrigation emitters to take cooling baths.  Here is a video of a Spotted Towhee thoroughly enjoying itself in the water.

Enjoy more cool photos at Bird Photography Weekly, hosted by Birdfreak!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mick October 24, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Very interesting behavior of the ducks catching the damselflies. It sounds like a great place to visit to see lots of birds. I’m off to take some people to see the shorebird roost this morning – yesterday the weather was perfect and today is overcast and threatening with rain! It so often happens just when you want others to see birds in the best light!
Mick´s last post ..Juvenile Godwits Arrive

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Birding is Fun! October 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Another fantastic post Larry. I really love that photo of the male Wood Duck on the sneak attack. What an interesting behavior! Thanks for documenting it and sharing it.
Birding is Fun!´s last post ..Bird Glamour Shots

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Larry October 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

@Mick Lema Ranch is one of my “hot spots” and it is always fun to bird there. As you can see from this post, I know what you mean about the weather

@Robert thank you very much. I love observing bird behavior. It is so much fun!

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Dawn Fine October 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Wow..that photo of the male Wood duck with all the damselflies around it is very cool.
And..I am a sucker for bathing birdies!
Dawn Fine´s last post ..Bittersweet Autumn

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Mike B. October 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Beautiful shots Larry! Love the wood ducks hunting. I haven’t seen sapsuckers around here for a while- we had a family of them during the summer flying all over the place. Hopefully they’ll be back.
Mike B.´s last post ..Boxelder Bug Meets Sticky Fate

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Larry October 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

@Dawn I’m a sucker for bathing birds too :-) The damselflies were everywhere! It was amazing

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Kelly October 24, 2010 at 8:41 pm

…I loved the video of the towhee…too cute, and I laughed out loud when I saw the photo of the male Wood Duck hunting the damselflies. He looks like my cat hunting imaginary mice!! Love the look in the eyes. I’ve never seen a Red-breasted Sapsucker, but when I eventually make it out west, it will be at the top of my must-see list. He is gorgeous.
Kelly´s last post ..Snowy Egret feeding nestlings

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bob k October 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Another interesting observation on the Wood Ducks, Larry! I also thought they feed on water vegetation only. Maybe they needed the “protein” from insects as well.

You have quite a variety of birds over there at Lema Ranch. Great photos!
bob k´s last post ..Owed to a Skylark

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The Zen Birdfeeder October 26, 2010 at 4:47 am

Love that Wood Duck with head held low!
The Zen Birdfeeder´s last post ..Rufous Hummingbird Sighting in Saratoga County NY

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NatureFootstep October 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

that was a strange looking duck. I have never seen a duck chasing damselflies before. It looks fun. To bad you did not have a video on that event. :)
NatureFootstep´s last post ..Helig Ibis – Threskiornis aethiopicus – Sacred Ibis

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Jan Axel October 27, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I love those ducks, I got my life Wood Ducks earlier this year in Toronto’s High Park… beautiful creatures!
Jan Axel´s last post ..Preening friend

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Nicole October 29, 2010 at 9:47 am

You once again managed to capture some awesome shots and birds there!
That woodduck laying low and hunting the dragonflies is something I sure have never seen before either.
Amazing!
Nicole´s last post ..Birding in the Jahra area Part 1

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Amber Coakley October 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm

You sure have presented a smorgasbord of birds all in one post. Awesome! It is no surprise to me that Wood Ducks (or just about any animal, including humans) would eat insects, but it sure is fun to actually observe the behavior (not so much with humans). The male Wood Duck is so bright and colorful, I wonder if his stealth-attach works? That’s a great moment, Larry – I’m so glad you captured it.

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is stunning! I just checked the range map at Cornell’s All About Birds…darn, I’m not even close to their range. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy them here.

Nothing puts a smile on my face quite like a bird splashing happily in the water. That Spotted Towhee was having a great time. And I like that the video was long enough so that I could enjoy it for a bit…and watch it twice.

Thoroughly enjoyed this post, Larry. :-)
Amber Coakley´s last post ..Blond- blue-eyed…BEE!

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