Chicks are in season in the Adirondacks…. no, not tall blond babes, though some of these are sorta yellowish and all are babies. The fashionable chicks of the forest are short and fuzzy and waddle around on webbed feet or baby claws.
And with each little gaggle of hatchlings comes a fierce warrior mother, ready to screech, flap her wings and possibly scratch your eyes out if you don’t just move along and stop taking pictures of her darlings!
The Ruffed Grouse (seen here in the tall grass with little chicks near her feet) can be found all over the place right now, single moms with long lines of little waddlers in tow. Haven’t seen a male grouse anywhere…. hmmm…. As soon as this mother hen spotted me she flapped her wings and started the loudest squawking imaginable. Now I know what it means when someone is “grousing”… it’s loud and unpleasant!
The Wood Duck and her baby (see photo of them paddling around on Bear Pond this morning) were going along calmly until they spotted a photographer nearby, then they sped up… and right behind them, from under a bridge, a burst of ducklings paddling their little hearts out to keep up with mom. Off in the distance, too far for the lens, there was quite a gathering of loons, and when they sensed a dangerous presence (me) they set off a symphony of their loud and strangely beautiful calls.
Life in the wild can be very harsh for the young. Predators abound, and small wobbly chicks make tasty snacks. So the law of nature is the instinctively protective female fiercely guarding her young until they can make it on their own — which might be in just a few days or weeks, depending on when she decided they’re old enough to kick them out of the nest. Til then, she does her best to keep strangers away.