Wood Ducks on Crum Creek

Wood Ducks on Crum Creek

Wood Duck photo credit: R. Bartz

In the spring of 1987 I was invited by a local birder, Helen McWilliams, to go look at the Wood Duck on the Crum Creek.  On that day we were successful and found a breeding pair.  On April 4th, I wanted to enjoy the Arboretum while also taking in some birding.  Equipped with both camera (for the plants) and binoculars I set out for a three hour walk/hike.


Cooper's Hawk photo credit: H. Gilbert Miller

I spotted a host of usual characters such as American Robin, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Cowbird, Northern Cardinal and the Common Grackle.  I headed through the Magnolia Collection and then across to the old Pinetum and followed the railroad tracks up to the SEPTA overpass.  At the overpass a Cooper’s Hawk flew into tree.  In the past decade or so the College has seen an increased population of the Red-tailed Hawk, but it is not uncommon to see both the Cooper’s Hawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk on campus.


Red-tailed hawk spotted in Cunningham field. photo credit. R. Robert

I wanted to see what was blooming in the Wister Garden so I headed behind the pool and athletic facilities and entered the Wister Garden from the service drive.  Many of the spring bulbs were still looking fantastic.  From the Wister Garden I found the trail that follows the Crum Creek upstream.  I could hear the pecking of a woodpecker.  I soon saw both the Northern Flicker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

As I headed upstream I could see in the distance some sort of waterfowl paddling in the creek.  At first inspection I thought it was the Mallard, but then as I got closer I could see marking on that face.  With my binoculars I could see that it was two males and one female Wood Duck.  The Wood Duck is one of the few species of ducks that nests in trees.  In fact, further on in my hike a saw a pair of wood ducks fly out of the top of a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera.

The Scott Arboretum and the entire grounds of Swarthmore College are a fantastic site for birding throughout the seasons.  There is a bird list for the Crum Woods found on pages 222-228 of the Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods of Swarthmore College.

Andrew Bunting
  • Lisa
    Posted at 23:04h, 07 April Reply

    I adore Wood Ducks! Your photos are lovely.

  • Sue
    Posted at 07:56h, 08 April Reply

    Andrew, incredible photos. Nice work. Sue

  • Sue
    Posted at 05:42h, 13 April Reply

    I sometimes see a wood duck sitting on a dead branch of one of the oaks at the Wister garden. I always thought it was odd. Could they be nesting there, or looking for a place to nest? Great pictures!

  • Andrew Bunting
    Posted at 14:47h, 13 April Reply


    They very well could be nesting. Since seeing them on the Crum Ann Ainsworth told me she saw some at her home garden. Then I saw a solitary male in Chadds Ford and last night I saw a male and female on a pond in Villanova.


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