Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Lorraine sent some photos taken by her friend, which we have permission to post. There are ducks! Her note said, “These are photographs taken in and around Richmond, Virginia by Doug Hayes this past fall and winter.”

Doug supplied the IDs; the captions are mine:

Female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos):

Gadwall ducks (Mareca stepera):

Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) hunting and nomming a frog:

Sans frog:

Pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps):


  1. Adrian White
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure about the female Mallard. I think it is an eclipse drake with the all-yellow bill and black nail. I may be corrected!

    • Liz
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      The all-yellow bill is a good observation. I missed that. I’m not sure what a black nail is but I’m not sure this is a female mallard either.

      Wonderful pictures. I especially like the third picture of the heron. The second picture of the heron with the frog is amazing. The last picture of the pied-billed grebe is beautiful with the raindrops.

      • Adrian
        Posted January 30, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        The nail is the small black tip to the bill and is seen in many ducks.

  2. Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The frog being eaten is a large male bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

    • sugould
      Posted January 30, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      How the heck can a bird survive eating something that large and still aggressively moving? How long does it take them to stop moving? Do they suffocate quickly?

      • rickflick
        Posted January 30, 2020 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        I was wondering that myself (I’m childishly attracted by such ghoulish questions). For comparison, the green heron, about half the size of the great blue heron, chomp and thrashes their frogs until it is limp before swallowing it head first. I filmed this event (WARNING! not suitable viewing if you are having dinner yourself):

        I have to assume the frog is rendered senseless, if not dead, before ingestion. On the other hand, the blue heron above seems to avoid the coup de grâce and the frog must kick his way down unwillingly. If I was forced to guess, I’d say the frog slithers down smoothly, and succumbs to asphyxiation within a few minutes. Which isn’t that bad when you consider alternatives such as an encounter with a mink or racoon.

  3. Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Great pictures! I especially like the blue heron series.

  4. rickflick
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Fine pictures.

    Poor little frog. But, a bird must have it’s dinner.

  5. Keith
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Kudos to Doug Hayes for these amazing photos! Such a dramatic story told by the heron and frog interaction.

  6. Charles Sawicki
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Nice Great blue heron with frog pictures! It looks like that bill could do serious damage to humans.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I have been on the receiving end of the bill of its European relative the Grey Heron (Area cinerea) and can confirm that it is capable of doing serious damage!

  7. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Nice pictures! The ‘sans frog’ and ‘avec frog’ images show different age related plumages of the great blue heron. The frog eating bird is not fully mature and still has a grey crown, greyish cheek and a brownish tone to the wing coverts. It also lacks the well developed plumes on the crown and the long pointed, plume-like feathers on the neck and back. The sans frog image is an adult with all of these features well developed. The flushed orange-red colour of the bill indicates that it is in breeding condition.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 29, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Good point. Thanks for the info. It is my understanding and observation that the male and female do not differ significantly in plumage. Is that something you agree with? (me no expert).

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted January 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Yes I’d agree with that. There are differences in average size between males and females but these would not be sufficient to tell when viewing in the field.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted January 29, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I doubt adult bullfrogs have many natural predators…other than birds like herons, maybe snakes? Or maybe I’m full of it and adult bullfrogs have many predators; maybe just not up here in Washington.

    Either way, a nice group of snaps and good action.

  9. Posted January 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks to Lorraine for sharing Doug’s wonderful work with us!

%d bloggers like this: