Life has quickened in Chicago in the past week, for it’s finally gotten warm. The animals are feeling it, too. Here are a few photos I snapped on my walk to work.
Making squirrels! These gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) bonked at least six times in the few minutes I watched them:
Right outside our building is a lovely little pond called “Botany Pond” for the old Botany Building beside it (now unimaginatively renamed “Ehrman Biology Center”). It’s a good place to have lunch and watch the resident koi, turtles, and ducks.
The pond already contains one mother and half a dozen ducklings, but groups of males still come around hoping for an extra-pair copulation, which is often forcible. I weep for that female!
Here’s the bachelor line. The commonness of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) often keeps us from noticing how beautiful they really are.
Several of the males dived into the water at once, and began performing what seemed to be some kind of display, probably involving dominance. They’d face each other, and, all of a sudden—with much attendant splashing—go bottoms-up, as if they were feeding. But they weren’t feeding, for they remained upside-down for only an instant. And the group kept doing it, over and over.
Perhaps some learned reader can enlighten us about this display. Does the duck who makes the biggest splash win, like the tubby kid doing cannonballs at the local pool?