Readers’ wildlife photos

June 9, 2014 • 4:34 am

Stephen Barnard demonstrates more of the aerodynamic properties of Idaho ducks:

Ben Goren recently commented on the iridescent colors in Mallard wings in a photo of mine you posted. Here’s a particularly fine example, I think, of green iridescent markings on a Cinnamon Teal wing [Anas cyanoptera]. This green marking is difficult to spot with the naked eye, although I’m pretty sure the female teal can see it.


Also, a pair of Mallard drakes [Anas platyrhynchos] taking off. The drakes are hanging out together in small groups while the females are tending nests, eggs, and ducklings. Typical. 🙂

I saw the first flotilla of Mallard ducklings today.




15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Stephen Barnard’s photos are consistently wonderful–thanks for sharing. The iridescent wing markings are fascinating. Are these only visible during flight? I would expect they are visible during courtship, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen mallards court.

  2. The coloured patch/flash in a duck wing is called a “speculum” which refers to a mirror- from the Latin. The speculum on a duck is a coloured patch on the flight feathers call secondaries. The speculum is rarely visible in a “sitting” duck.

  3. Magnificent. Though I had several pick up trucks pass me this morning with duck stickers on them. I think their appreciation of ducks is different than mine. If they shoot them out of the air like Katniss, I guess it would not be all bad…but I sort of doubt they use that ancient of a technology.

    1. Duck hunting organizations like Ducks Unlimited have done excellent, highly effective work on behalf of waterfowl conservation and habitat protection. All hunters of migratory waterfowl are required annually to buy a $15 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (a “Duck Stamp”), and Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar goes to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

      I have a lot of ducks on my ranch (as you may have noticed). I prefer the camera to the gun, but I allow friends to hunt ducks and geese occasionally.

  4. Structural colours.
    Pow! Right in the eye!
    Doesn’t god find it humbling that microscopic organisms invented these incredible artefacts a billion or years or so before her chosen naked ape started to hit each other with the lumpy end of an antelope’s thigh bone? The FSM drips sauce, rich sauce, for the microbes.

      1. Hmmm, I’ll have to go and re-watch it now. Was the Hollywood Antelope Shop out of stock that day, one wonders?

          1. Hmmm, not one of the most “sophisticated theologist” arguments that I’ve ever seen.
            One wonders why tapir?

            1. Tapirs appear in the film. They were presumably the prey of, or were scavenged by, the chimp-like protohumans. The blunder of casting an American animal in what had to be an African location put me off the movie right away. (The scene was actually shot in Monument Valley, Utah, I believe.) One wonders how they obtained tapir bones, and for that matter how they obtained a tapir.

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