Readers’ wildlife photos

Here we have DUCK PHOTOS from evolutionary biologist John Avise, and he’s posed them as a quiz: “Name the ducks” (there are four species). Try your best, and I’ll post the answers this afternoon (if you access the names of the photos, you’ll also know, but don’t look). John’s notes are indented:

Many species of “puddle ducks” or “dabbling ducks” characteristically feed in a “tip-up” posture, with their butt pointed skyward and their head and neck stretched downward to feed off the substrate in shallow waters.  In the following photos,  I will first show each species in one or more tip-up poses before showing them in their regular swimming mode.  See if you can identify each species from its tip-up appearance alone.  All of these duck species are common in the winter in Southern California.

Species #1:

Species #2:

Species #3 (several poses)

Species #4 (several poses):

You’d better know this one!



  1. David Fuqua
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Spoonbill, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard?

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted March 27, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Almost, but think of a different implement for #1!

      This isn’t too hard for birders, but note how mallard-like the female of #3 is. This can be a tricky I’d, but she’s usually accompanied by the more distinctive male in my neck of the woods (Ottawa, Canada).

    • Keith
      Posted March 27, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Hey, the first one is a Northern Shoveler.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 27, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Yes. Northern shoveler, Spatula clypeata. I think spoonbill is a common nickname.

  2. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Do you know the “Up Tails All” poem from Wind in the Willows?

  3. Posted March 27, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    2 out of 4 for me.

  4. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Duckbutts? Are you trying to convey something about the POTUS?

    • rickflick
      Posted March 27, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Donald Duckbutts?

  5. Posted March 27, 2020 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    The butt-in-the air pictures made me think of this…

    • Posted March 27, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Dang! Forgot to un-imbed!

  6. Posted March 27, 2020 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Shoveller, PinTail, Gadwall and Mallard. Really not sure about Gadwall but it’s the only dabbling duck I can think of it could be.

  7. Michael Ball
    Posted March 27, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and Mallard. I get to enjoy all four of these species when they visit the flooded fields next to my house in winter.

  8. Posted March 28, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    DOn’t know most of them by name, though I’ve seen ’em here before, but I know what I like. They’re fun and brilliant. So thanks, John!

%d bloggers like this: