Video by Lee Clippard
Cover photo by Bill Boyd
Staff of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have been keeping vigil, from a careful distance, over the suspected nesting of a pair of black-bellied whistling ducks at the very top of the Tower near the Courtyard. This week, the delightful discovery that nine ducklings had arrived on the Tower’s green roof sent the staff into planning mode.
Black-bellied whistling ducklings are very independent when born, and will often tumble down from their high nests to make their way to water. In this case, the ducklings began their journey down the Tower’s stairs.
Staff and volunteers then helped usher the newborn birds and their parents to the safest, closest water environment, the Wetland Pond near the Center’s entrance (incidentally, right across from the springtime nesting site of a great horned owl, who left for the season after her two owlets fledged in late April).
Onlookers quietly cheered as the mother paraded her newborns through the Courtyard and entered the pond, as ducks are wont to do.
Though the stone Tower seems a precarious spot to lay eggs, it has become more common for black-bellied whistling ducks to adopt urban spots for their nests. After creating a safe exit for the ducklings and helping their parents guide them to their first swim, staff members observed the ducks from a respectful distance. Visitors to the Wildflower Center are asked do the same.