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Local birder welcomes return of wood ducks

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Area birdwatcher Ron Dexter, who lives in the Mount Spokane foothills, has the welcome mat out for colorful migrants that return each year for his hospitality.  Ron posted this delightful update this morning:

Each spring, we look forward to the arrival of Wood Ducks on our ponds. The first pair arrived about 10 days ago, then a few more every couple days. Yesterday, I counted 17. They are very flighty and try to sneak in to our duck feeding area twice a day. Our regular pond birds are Mallards of course. We fed approximately 40 through the winter. We have 4 domestic ducks. A spring fed water supply keeps an open space in the ice for them to bathe, etc. Two pair of Canada Geese arrived about 2 weeks ago to fight over the nesting platforms.
 
The Wood Ducks, however are our favorites. They checkout all of the nest boxes and eventually each will lay 10 or 11 eggs. Sometimes two will lay eggs in the same box. I have counted as many as 22 eggs in one box. 19 of those were hatched by one Wood Duck. The eggs all hatch within a 24 hr period and when the coast is clear she calls the kids out of the nest box. Believe it or not, they jump to the water or ground below no matter the distance. They actually spread their arms and legs like a sky diver and bounce like a cork when they hit the ground. Within a few hours, mama duck  takes the young on a quarter mile hike through tall grasses down to the creek.
 
Last year one mama got quite used to us and kept her young on the pond for 2 weeks which we throughlly enjoyed. She hides them in the cattails most of the time, but the brave or naughty ones dart our and around the pond looking for something to eat.      Ahhhh, spring is arriving

A closer look at the rare northern hawk owl

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birdwatcher/photographer Ron Dexter, who lives north of Spokane, snapped this sweet image of the northern hawk owl that's been catching a lot of attention in the Spokane area for the past two weeks.

The bird has been hunting mice and voles along Prewett Road in west Spokane County.

“This is only the 4th hawk owl seen in Spokane County since 1993,” Dexter reports. “It hunts early in the morning, rests through the middle of the day and begins hunting again around 2 p.m.”