The woodies are changing!

The two male wood ducks (Aix sponsa) in Botany Pond are still here, though the Lady Woodie flew the coop. And the two males, who get plenty of noms from us, are starting to change their plumage from the non-breeding form to the fantastic breeding coloration.

Here are the woodies on September 16. This first one is a male:

In the photo below, the one on the right with the pink beak is a male, while the one on the left, with the gray beak, is the female, now departed. The creature in the rear is not a duck.

Here are the two males today. Their heads are turning iridescent green, their wings blue, their beaks red, and they’re getting a lovely stippled chest pattern, as well as their cherry red eyes:

Head starting to green up. For the endpoint, see the last photo:

The pair of males, who are named Frisky and Blockhead, like to perch on the knees of the cypress tree. After all, they’re perching ducks and like to have wood under their feet. I like to think they’re brothers. They’re nice and plump, too, as we feed them well.

If we keep them around for another short while, they should wind up looking like this (picture from Wikipedia). Ah, the marvels of sexual selection and development! I really want to see this happen:

Oh, and Honey is still around, continually asserting her alpha-female status by attacking other mallards at feeding time.

13 Comments

  1. eric
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I hope you get your wish! That would be spectacular.

    I guess it’s a race of molting vs. temperature/food supply. You can’t control the first two, but I bet the chances of them sticking around longer will go up if you keep them well fed.

  2. Ruthann Richards
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Why would the woodies be going into breeding plumage now? Most birds–and I believe most ducks–don’t do that until late winter.

    • Posted October 5, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      The mallards at the pond are also changing into their breeding colors. I suspect that they change colors before migration, as they did last year, so their feathers are in prime condition for the big flight south.

  3. Posted October 5, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The turtle appears to be walking on the water. A Jesus turtle?

  4. Posted October 5, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Highly exciting!
    *Cough!* nest boxes *Cough cough!*

    • Posted October 5, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think that would work (believe me, I’ve thought of this), for if Honey is here, she’d simply beat up young wood ducks. Otherwise, a woodie nest box on the cypress trees would be fantastic.

      • Posted October 5, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Maybe the baby Wood Ducks would be on a different schedule, or may be different-looking enough to avoid triggering Honey’s territoriality.

  5. Terry L Pedersen
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating transformation! Thank you. I hope they stay around for the Finale!

  6. jezgrove
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Woodies are very lovely looking ducks.

    “The creature in the rear is not a duck.” – thanks to the highly informative Sunday Duck o’ the Week series I half-suspected that already ;o)

  7. rickflick
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Love to watch them “evolve”.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted October 5, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Very nice! Thanks for the update.

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted October 6, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      +1

  9. Andrea Kenner
    Posted October 9, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Handsome lads!


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