Baby Wood Ducks at Tower Grove Park

August 6, 2014

I’ve been working on a project to photograph the wildlife of Tower Grove Park and one of my goals was to capture some images of baby wood ducks. Just when I’d almost given up on finding a brood this summer, I spotted a mama with five babies last Saturday morning. The encounter resulted in some of the sweetest, no cutest, images I’ve taken in a long time. The featured image, my favorite from two mornings of shooting, was taken on Sunday morning when the babies had just finished a swim as the morning wind began gusting. The tiny puffballs came out of the water with a chill and began packing under mama to get warm.

I watched with great pleasure as each sibling competed for the warmest spot, displacing the next to a new location. It was also fun to watch the hen as she preened and tried not to pay too much attention to all the squirming below. I made several images as the babies settled in for their nap but this one won out (500 mm; 1/400; f/8; ISO 400; Av). As you can see from the shooting data, I closed my aperture a bit to try to get as much depth of field as possible. The result was a nice plane of focus across the mama’s face as well as each of the babies. If you look closely, you can just see the tip of the fifth duckling’s bill.

In the second image, I’ve captured a nice moment between mama and a single baby. Although I strived for images with all five ducklings in the frame, I couldn’t resist sharing this one. It’s hard to look at the innocent duckling without thinking of all it will have to go through to make it to a full size wood duck like its mother.

DJB_TGP_2014_1115 (2)Wood Duck with Baby; 500 mm; 1/1000; f/4; ISO 400; Av

I captured the final image after the the warm, lakeside concrete brought the babies back to life and they were ready for another swim. It would have been nice to capture all five babies in the water with mama but the little stinkers scattered like marbles every time they hit the water!

DJB_TGP_2014_1141Wood Duck with Ducklings; 500 mm; 1/800; f/5.6; ISO 400; Av

It was difficult to leave the wood duck family as the sun became too harsh for nice images. After I packed my gear, I returned to the little fountain lake to watch for a few more minutes as the five little ducklings, constantly in motion, explored their new world with endless curiosity.


I’m loving all of the nice letters and emails about my latest story and photo in Missouri Conservationist. My subject for the August issue was the White-lined Sphinx. If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, which is free to all Missourians, you can read the story here.

Thanks for looking,

Danny Brown

Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

4 comments on “Baby Wood Ducks at Tower Grove Park”

  1. Oh my goodness, these are the cutest little things. I love the feature image of all the babies snuggling under mama duck. Trying to take pictures of ducklings before, I loved your description of all the ducklings scattering like marbles. Thanks for capturing these little guys through your lens. Your work never ceases to amaze me.

  2. Those are the SWEETEST pictures of Mama Duck, and her babies, that I have ever seen. You can see the pride that Mama has in her eyes, and the expression in her face. They all appear as if they are smiling. Thanks for sharing Danny. I can see a great opportunity for a children ‘s story book, or a annual calender. Keep up the good work Danny. You bring such delight with your images to everyone, during these very troubled times.


    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Art, and I’ll have to get on that book when I retire from MDC.

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