Sunday wildlife: Duck O’ the Day:

Evolutionary biologists and amateur photographer John Avise continues with his series on North American ducks. The object is for readers to learn all our ducks as a project in quarantine. You have to guess which one is shown in these photographs, and then see the answer, a duck fact, and a range map below the fold. John’s comments are indented.

Now, name this duck (many of you will get this one):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click “read more” to get more facts about this species:

 

 

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

In summer months, drakes assume an “eclipse” plumage that is much duller than the colorful breeding plumage they wear in winter and spring (when they are courting hens).   This species prefers wooded swamps and freshwater ponds where nesting occurs in tree cavities (or sometimes in human-supplied nest boxes; see photo).  These birds often perch on large lower limbs of trees (or sometimes on split-rail fences; see photos).  Breeding populations across the eastern half of the United States are geographically disjunct from those in several far-western states.

A range map:

 

 

 

9 Comments

  1. mallardbrad
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Always delighted at the educational & evolutionary posts; wonderful photography! Thank You!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Wow! I’d have never got it based on the first photo!

    Such a striking duck – intense color combinations.

  3. Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Excellent pictures!

  4. EdwardM
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen a video of Wood ducklings leaping from their nest in a tall tree, careering down through the branches only to bounce like little tennis balls when they smacked into the leaves and root at the foot of the tree, seemingly unharmed. It was both terrifying and hilarious.

  5. Frank Bath
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    This must be the only North American duck I know. When I first saw one on the lake in Regent’s Park here in London I could hardly believe how colourful it was. The Carolina Wood Duck, said the identification board in front of me, nests in trees.

  6. JezGrove
    Posted April 26, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I never knew how little I knew about how many types of ducks there are before this feature started.

  7. jedijan
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Good grief … Anatidaephobia is one phobia I have never heard of before. Now that is pretty unique! 😄


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