Drake Wood Ducks are beautiful. This is one of two images that feature Wood Ducks in the upcoming photo exhibit at Magale Library at Centenary College located in Shreveport, Louisiana. The exhibit runs from June 1, 2012 throughout the summer during regular library hours. The exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge, a non-profit group dedicated to supporting and promoting the Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
Wood Ducks are year round Refuge residents. These residents are joined by many migrant ducks during the winter months. Wood Duck nesting boxes can be seen around Lake Caroline at Headquarters Unit. During each June and July the lake is closed to human traffic so the Refuge personnel can band as many Wood Ducks as possible in an effort to track their migration patterns. The manner in which the ducks are caught is very interesting. The duck banding site (an appropriate name) is basically just a cleared area next to the lake. Ducks are fed grain to get them used to the area. At the appropriate time, Refuge personnel set up a net and then get up real early, hide very quietly nearby and endure many mosquitos during those steamy summer mornings. At the right time, the net is launched over the ducks using a small rocket propelled device. The taggers scramble from their hideout, quickly secure the ducks and then tag them and collect other data. The ducks are released and hopefully one day someone will find a tagged duck and report the tag ID. As might be imagined, the odds of finding a tagged duck are not very high, but when a tag is recovered the data is very useful.
This drake image was captured from the Headquarters duck banding site in April 2010. There are a few birds that, as a nature photographer, you just can’t get enough images. One is the drake Wood Duck. Two others are Bald Eagles and American White Pelicans. Fortunately, Red River NWR has all three at various times during the year. Generally, I’ll hear Wood Ducks as they whistle by or take off as I approach the lake. But occasionally they will approach close enough for a decent image.
This is one of my favorite Wood Duck images. The morning light reflecting off the lake gives the bird a painterly look. Male Wood Ducks have wonderful colors and detail. The splashing water, legs moving and blurred wings all suggest action. Some type of vegetation in the background is evident, but is blurred and doesn’t distract from the main subject. I like it!!