Welcome to the fourth Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #4 challenge is Ducks and Geese. Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
The feature image if you can see it is a pair of Cinnamon Teals taken at Henderson Birding Preserve in Henderson, Nevada. Not too far from Las Vegas and one of our favorite birding spots when we visit there.
This feral domesticated Muscovy Duck is quite commonly seen all over the United States. The truly wild species are found in south Texas and points south. It is one of the oldest domesticated fowl species in the world. The male is the largest duck in North America, but the female is half his size. These ducks have sharp claws. The female will lay 8-15 eggs which she will defend and raise the ducklings. In addition, she may raise babies from a Black-bellied Whistling Duck who snuck their eggs in with her eggs.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are fun to see. You can hear the whistle as they approach when flying in the air. They have a pink bill and a long silhouette which make them resemble geese and swans, rather than ducks. They are year round residents in most of Florida. They can be found in southern Georgia, South Carolina and parts of Texas, Arizona and Mexico.
The Blue-winged teal migrates over long distances. They are among the latest ducks to migrate northward in spring and one of the first to migrate southward in the fall. I love watching them dive with their butts in the air. They can be seen in most of North America.
Domestic Geese can be down right mean. The photos above are from the cemetery and the geese were relaxing by the pond and pretty chilled. The photos below are from my ex-husband’s yard in Brandon, Florida a few years ago. They were quite aggressive and chased us out of the yard. I think his wife at the time told them to do it! She’s an ex now too, so I’m the one with the last laugh.
The above photo is a male Redhead, but the female is the queen of depositing her eggs in other species nests like other Redheads, Mallard, Canvasback, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon and even the Northern Harrier. Sneaky little things, aren’t they? This could stand to reason why you see different species socializing together. The male is quite dramatic when courting. He will give his most impressive “head throw” by bending almost in half with the neck bent far over the back until his head touches his tail. Then his neck snaps forward while giving a loud catlike mee-ow call.
The word “merganser” comes from Latin meaning “plunging goose”. The Common Merganser is often called sawbills, fish ducks or goosanders. Their young will leave the nest hole within a day or two after they have hatched. The chicks, unable to fly, will leap from the entrance of the nest and tumble to the bottom of the forest floor. The mother, like the female above will protect the chicks, but they have to catch their own food, generally aquatic insects. They will start catching fish at about 12 days old. This photo was taken at String Lake in Grand Teton National Park while we were kayaking.
So far, there are at least 11 species of Canada Goose. The geese get smaller the farther north you go, so here in Florida they are quite large. The fourth smallest within the species have been given their own species name: the Cackling Goose. The Canada Goose used to only be seen during migration, but they have taken the “snow bird” meaning to the next level and have become permanent residents in Florida.
The Wood Duck is the most colorful duck of all the species. They live in wooded swamps where they nest in holes of trees or in nest boxes put up around lakes. They have long claws so they can grip bark and perch on branches. They are the only North American duck that will regularly produce two broods per year.
Until next week…Week #5 – Feathers of Blue.