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San Diego Wood Ducks

Well, the San Diego Bird Festival put on by the San Diego Audubon Society has wound down to a a close and it was an action packed festival from workshops, to games to, movie sneak preview to even David Sibley himself. One of the field trips I went on was with my buddy Clay and it was in depth digiscoping. He did a class (above) and the next day he took a group out for field trip that was geared to getting shots of birds in great light. I must admit, it was a refreshing change for me, to just be able to go on a field trip and really take time with birds, not just go out and tick off as many species as possible.

We went to Santee Lakes for part of it and I was going over my photos, I noticed I had several shots of wood ducks!

The wood ducks were used to people coming around to feed them. As I was standing on a bridge looking out at the waterfowl, this male wood duck swam up and gave me an expectant look. I didn’t even need to use the digiscoping equipment, he was too close. He stared momentarily and when I failed to produce anything remotely resembling food, he moved on looking for accommodating human.

Everyone in our group found a drowsy adult male wood duck on which to practice their digiscoping mojo. Another case of a bird behaving differently in another state. Wood ducks in Minnesota are rather cagey, but have a friendlier attitude in sunny San Diego.

As we were taking his photo, he suddenly perked up. You can’t see in the photo, but not too far in front of him, a pair of wood ducks is waddling by. He started doing his wood duck whistle. As the pair continued without paying him too much mind, he started to settle back down on one foot, but still continued to whistle. I took a video. You’ll hear Clay talking in the background as well as a great-tailed grackle:

Did you catch the size of that great-tailed grackle walking behind the wood duck?

I think this is my favorite of all of them. I love head-on shots of birds. More San Diego Bird Fest fun (and Guatemala) is on the way.

11 comments to San Diego Wood Ducks

  • Stephanie

    They’re so pretty. I’ve never seen one “in person” before… just mallards, and some wary baffleheads from a distance.

  • Anonymous

    Wow – nice woodie shot from above – never seen that shot before.

    Went to Tucson in Jan and found many diver species in a city park that were behaving like your wood ducks.
    Made for some great photo ops for species that we only would see at a distance.
    Larry S

  • momo

    What a gorgeous bird. I love how his head rises up as he does his whistle!

  • Lynne

    Love-love the shot from above too. The colors and textures from that angle are nice. Very artsy.

  • NCmountainwoman

    Beautiful photographs. So perfect they look like paintings. What a lovely bird.

  • dguzman

    My favorite duck, captured beautifully. They’re much more shy in PA as well.

  • Art D

    Love the pictures! especially the one from above!

  • Stacy

    ardeaI’ll echo others by saying the above shot is spectacular! Great job! The head popping up whistling is adorable too.

  • spinyurchin

    Lovely pics. With his puffed out cheeks, the last shot looks like he is holding his breath until he gets some food.

  • Anonymous

    I had to keep going back to look at the beautiful shot from above. I love the ripples. It was great that you didn’t catch your own reflection/shadow.


  • Adri

    Thanks for the wood duck photos! I’ve got great memories of building wood duck boxes with my dad in Louisiana!