Again some amazing photos, scenarios too!
Reader Bruce Lyon sent what he calls a “wood duck fairy tale.” Well, like the old timey fairy tales, it’s not all beer and skittles, but does have a happy ending. And there’s some nice biology included. The story stars a beleaguered mother wood duck (Aix sponsa), some predatory California scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica), and a protective California quail (Callipepla californica).
Bruce’s notes are indented.
My colleague John Eadie and I observed a bizarre natural history event at a wood duck nest. John has been studying within-species brood parasitism in several populations of these ducks near Davis, California for the past decade. Some background before the bizarre observation. Wood ducks lay eggs in each others’ nests with reckless abandon and we are trying to figure out the adaptive basis (if any) of this ‘conspecific brood parasitism’. Parasitism is so common that most nests seem to…
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