Become a friendly Duck Buddy

CHESTNUT TEALS are currently in the mood for love. Up until the end of November, be on the lookout for little ducklings appearing around Jindabyne. You've probably spotted a Chestnut Teal before-they are a very common duck which is easily recognisable by the male's vibrant green-coloured head. You can be a buddy to a Chestnut Teal family near you, and enjoy their antics around your neighbourhood.

Backyard Buddies is a free program run by Australia's Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Each month, you get a Backyard Buddies email (B-mail) with tips to make your backyard inviting and safe for native animals. Chestnut Teals featured in October B-mail. Sign up for B-mail and find out more about Australian animals at www.backyardbuddies.net.au.

"In a lot of ways, that Chestnut Teal you saw paddling across the water or carefully looking for a chance to cross the road, is a lot like you or I," said Ms Susanna Bradshaw, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, which runs Backyard Buddies.

"Just like us, Chestnut Teals are a bit romantic. A Chestnut Teal is looking for 'The One', and when found, a pair of Teals stays together monogamously all year round. Just like us, a pair of Chestnut Teals 'going steady' house hunts together for a good place to call their love nest, or in their case, their real nest. And just like us, Chestnut Teals love a property with a water view," said Ms Bradshaw.

"Chestnut Teals usually build a nest in a tree hollow, about 6 to 10 m above the ground, near water. They line it with soft feathers to keep their eggs warm. Or sometimes they nest in a small scrape on the ground, surrounded by grasses. This, however, makes them very vulnerable to cats, so it's a great idea to keep your pets indoors as much as possible," Ms Bradshaw said.

"You can be a fantastic buddy to a Chestnut Teal by providing them with somewhere to live."

"Like many other species, Chestnut Teals will happily nest in a nest box. Competition amongst animals for tree hollows to nest in is fierce. This is because less and less trees are getting to the ripe old age where they produce hollows. It can take 100 years or more for a tree to produce a natural hollow big enough for an animal to nest in."

"If you know Chestnut Teals or any other native birds or possums live near you, it's a great idea to provide a nest box. Even if you're not sure what lives near you, putting up a nest box can be a lot of fun for the whole family. You may just attract a visitor you didn't even know about. And you might get a chance to see little baby buddies and watch them grow up."

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