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Wood ducks make unique parents

Friday, April 15, 2016
Special to suffredin.org

Wood ducks make unique parents

Learn about April Bird of the Month’s parenting style

Throughout 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County invites visitors to see some of the most interesting native and migrating birds in the preserves.

Each month during the Forest Preserves’ 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, a new bird will be highlighted. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot the bird of the month at an event or program, and learn what makes that bird so special. The April Bird of the Month is the wood duck.

Wood ducks make unique parents. These breeding and parenting practices have led to success:

·Pick early: Choosing mates as early as January, most arrive to spring breeding grounds paired up.

·Nest high: Wood ducks nest in existing tree cavities or in elevated human-made nest boxes.

·Don’t play favorites: Females often engage in egg dumping (or laying eggs in another wood duck’s nest). Victims of egg dumping will incubate the imposter eggs and raise the ducklings as their own.

·Expect big things: Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female leaves the nest and calls for them to join her. Lucky ducklings have a short jump into water, but some will jump from as high as 50 feet on to land without injury.

To see the April Bird of the Month, check out these events:

Skokie Lagoons Big Year Birding Field Trip

Saturday, April 16, 2016 • 7 am

Erickson Woods, 1651 Willow Rd, Winnetka

*Hosted by Chicago Audubon Society

Penny Road Pond Big Year Field Trip

Friday, April 22, 2016 • 7 am

Penny Road Pond, E. Penny Rd & Old Sutton Rd, Barrington

*Hosted by Chicago Audubon Society

In addition to learning about the featured Bird of the Month and enjoying birding programs and events, birders of all skill levels can explore the preserves with teams competing in the Forest Preserves’ Big Year birding competition. During the Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Participants will visit their team’s preserve and log all bird sightings in eBird, an online birding checklist program. All are welcome to join these searches and binoculars will be available for loan.

The competition runs from March 1 to Dec. 31, and is a great way to challenge yourself and explore a local preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about. To learn more about the Big Year competition, visit fpdcc.com/2016-Big-Year.

On May 7, each of the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers will be hosting The Big Sit. Visitors can join in at any time between 5:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see how many birds can be heard or spotted from within a 17-foot circle. Citizen science events like The Big Sit can help ecologists make better decisions about the conservation of bird habitat.

Join a growing movement of nature lovers and bird the preserves this year while enjoying the many amenities offered throughout the Forest Preserves, including miles of marked trails, major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked, dedicated nature preserves and more.

Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness. For more information, visit fpdcc.com/birding. For additional information about the Big Year competition, visit fpdcc.com/2016-Big-Year.

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