Bob and Donna McFarland have been helping wood ducks on their Texas property for about twenty years now. It started when they dammed up a creek and created a lake on their land with the hopes of raising bass fish. They put up their first wood duck nest box in 2003 after seeing a mama duck with babies in the lake. The wood duck is a stunning, vibrantly colored species, the stuff of birders’ dreams and sadly it was at risk of becoming extinct due to hunting and habitat loss early in the 20th century. Conservation efforts beginning in 1916 helped it rebound. As their involvement with the wood ducks grew, Bob and Donna learned that when the newly hatched ducks and their mama leave the nest box, there are sometimes unhatched eggs left behind. Since the mama duck won’t come back for them, the MacFarlands have learned to care for the baby ducks that hatch late. Occasionally, they make a friend, like Toby the duck, one of the hatchlings they nurtured until he could live on his own. “He and I were best friends,” said Bob.

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