Friday, March 20, 2020

Fri-D: Ducks are Different: Finishing Up Bird Age-speak

[Adult breeding Mallards. This is also adult basic, because why should we make it easy?]

Last Fri-D and the one before I wrote about bird ages. Let's finish this off with the ducks, just pictures and captions. all photos are from Cape May County, NJ.

[Adult breeding Mallards, um, breeding. Most ducks pair on the wintering grounds, the male (drake is also correct) then stays with the female (hen is also correct), guarding her from other males until she is on eggs. Once that happens, he's oughtta there. Females then do all the incubating and raise the babies, which is why in any given fall flock of ducks, there will be more males. sex ratio is equal at birth, but females are more vulnerable. Do not apply any of this to human behavior.]

[Adult female Mallard with her brood of fledglings. Also called ducklings. Baby ducks are precocious; they hatch, dry off, and leave the nest right away with mom. Most can find their own food, but need to learn about life from mom. And they can't fly for a bit.]

[Male eclipse plumage Mallard. Also alternate plumage. Eclipse plumage males look a lot like females, but note among other things this guy's bill color. Ducks famously drop all their flight feathers at once, and are incapable of flight until the new ones grow in. It's a good idea to be camouflaged if you can't fly, which is why the female-like eclipse plumage evolved. Total eclipse of the duck.]

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