Friday, October 23, 2015
Four on a Friday
American Ringed-necked ducks are very cool looking with the white markings on their face. I can't figure why they don't call them Ring-billed ducks since the white ring around their bill is much more obvious from a distance than a ring around their neck. The brown one in the middle is the lone female in this bunch. For a supposedly common duck, I don't really see all that many of them. They might be mistaken for the Greater Scaup which has similar markings sans the rings.
Here is another mystery. I don't understand why this swan is so perfectly content to live life alone. You would think it would miss the companionship of others of the same species. There was a Sandhill Crane in this area a few years ago that also spent its days in a solo existence for at least a couple of years. I don't know if it is still in the area or whether it finally went looking for other Sandhills.
Here she (or is it he?) is patrolling her domain. I wonder what her reaction would be if another Mute Swan visited the pond. That would be interesting to see. Her wings are in the raised or "warning" position indicating an aggressive attitude, although I don't remember anything being near her that she might be upset with. Unless it was me. She had passed by me a few minutes earlier.
It is open season on Wood Ducks right now. It wasn't all that long ago that the population was facing extinction of a lack of good nesting sites. They naturally nest in tree cavities found in bottomland hardwood forests. Volunteers got organized and started building and installing nesting boxes and, before you know it, the ducks started coming back. There was probably a population of between twenty-five and fifty at this pond early in the spring. I am not sure where they are finding all the nesting cavities because there isn't one box on this pond that I am aware of.
A mother Woody will encourage her young to leave the nest the day after hatching. That can entail a jump from a hole in a tree fifty feet or more up and a march of up to a mile to get to water. They are precocious, born with their eyes open and the ability to do many things on their own such as swim. This pond is hemmed in a by major highways and a railroad track, so there is a limit to where they can find suitable nesting cavities. They are finding them somewhere close, though, since there were quite a few clutches of chicks on the pond in the spring.