{short description of image} NEW AWARD: The Kids First! Film Festival supplies other film festivals with programming material for Children's Programs, and selects award winners every year in Professional and Independent categories. The 2010 awards were announced on May 3rd 2011, and "Ride of the Mergansers" won first place in the Independent Short Ages 5-12 category. Winners in the Professional categories include "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."
 {short description of image} Hooded mergansers are cavity-nesting ducks. The hen lays her eggs high in a tree, safe from predators, where she incubates them for about 30 days. When they hatch, she doesn't bring food back to the nest; instead, she leads the ducklings out just 24 hours after hatching to find their own food in the wild.

Natural cavities are becoming scarce as old-growth trees are lost to logging and development. Luckily, hooded mergansers will nest in artificial nest boxes, much like wood ducks. However, while a wood duck will nest in a box nailed to the side of your house, hoodies are wary, and will only use nest boxes if they're located in secluded areas.
 {short description of image} Usually, the eggs all hatch the same day, and the ducklings jump the next morning around sunrise. However, in one nest in 2005, a strange thing happened: one egg hatched a day later than the rest. When the day-old ducklings climbed to the entrance and jumped, the new duckling was only 2 hours old, and was unable to climb the ladder or peep loud enough for its mother to hear. The hen, thinking that all the ducklings were in the water, led her brood to the safety of the weeds on the other side of the bay, leaving the newborn duckling behind.

Wildlife filmmakers often must make painful decisions about interfering with nature. As a general rule, I try to observe and not act. However, this duckling seemed healthy and agile, and without help it would starve. The hen, not knowing there was a duckling left behind, would never come back to the nest to call this one out, and the duckling would never leave the nest on its own.

I decided to rescue the exhausted duckling and take it to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in St. Paul MN, where I'm a volunteer. I documented the duckling's rescue and rehabilitation, and will make the video available as soon as it's done.

How did the story end? You'll have to wait and see! In the meantime, please visit the Wildlife Rehab Center website and learn more about the amazing work they're doing!

 Furman Technologies Steve Furman, Filmmaker