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Concealed by a blind, photographer gets up-close view of unusual group of ducklings

Wood Ducks and Hooded Merganser, Brick Pond Wetland Preserve, Owego, New York, June 6, 2015, 10:30 a.m., by Teri Franzen

Interspecific brood parasitism is not a phrase that rolls trippingly off the tongue, and the behavior is not something we get to see everyday. But egg dumping does happen, and subscriber Teri Franzen has proof. She was in a blind 20 feet from the shore of a pond at Brick Pond Wetland Preserve in Owego, New York, this spring when a Wood Duck hen appeared with four fledglings — three of her own and one from a Hooded Merganser.

Teri Franzen
Teri Franzen

The blended family settled onto a log 20 yards away, allowing Franzen to try many compositions, including the one above. “What I like about this specific image, other than the really cute ducklings,” she says, “is that it illustrates the separation of the merganser from its adoptive siblings.” Why would a Hoodie lay eggs in a Wood Duck’s nest? The hen may have been unable to find a nest site of her own or a predator may have disturbed her nest. We can only guess.

Franzen is a software engineer from Endicott, New York. A birder and bird photographer since 2012, she shares her images in both our online galleries and our Flickr group. We featured her portrait of a drake Wood Duck as a Photo of the Week in January 2015.

Franzen used the following equipment and settings to take the photo:

Camera: Canon 7D Mark II
Lens: 500mm IS II with a 1.4x teleconverter
Settings: 1/3200, f/7.1, ISO 400, manual mode
Light: Natural
Format: JPG

A version of this article was published in the October 2015 issue of BirdWatching. 


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