Last year, toward the end of the duck season, three Wood ducks (Aix sponsa) showed up at Botany Pond. The two males were named Frisky and Blockhead (Frisky was lively, Blockhead a bit thick) and a female named Ruth, whom Frisky courted. During the few weeks that they were here, Frisky and Blockhead molted into full, resplendent color, while Ruth took off early. Then, with the fall, they were gone.
Yesterday we had our first “woodie” of the season arrive at Botany Pond, and I swear that it might be Frisky—back again. I say this for three reasons. First, it’s a male. Second, he immediately recognized that duck pellets were food and began scarfing them up, eating a ton. (Last year it took the woodies a day or so to cotton on to the fact that they could eat the pellets.) Finally, after dinner the new duck immediately took up residence on a cypress “knee” on the South Duck Island—the very same spot where Frisky used to sit last year. (Do note, though, that Wood ducks are perching ducks, so this could be a coincidence.)
Well, you can be the judge. Here are four pictures of the new arrival, who isn’t in full color. I don’t think he’s yet started to molt, or is at the beginning of molting. Or he might be a juvenile who hasn’t yet developed his color, in which case he couldn’t be Frisky. The colors and red eye do show it’s a male.
Wood ducks are America’s most beautiful duck, and, after Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata), the second most beautiful duck in the world:
Here’s the putative Frisky on his knob after dinner. We’re naming this “Mount Frisky”.
Here are four photos from last year. It’s impossible to tell if this is the same male, but we’re calling the new one “Frisky” nonetheless. This is the original Frisky beginning to grow in his post-molt feathers. The fact that he’s more ragged than our new male makes me think that the new guy is a young, first-year woodie. If this is the case, he’ll be given a new name—perhaps Frisky, Jr.
A fully molted and beautiful Frisky with his iridescent green and purple crest.
Frisky on his knob last year:
Frisky courting Ruth last year, tenderly nuzzling her neck. I think this is one of the best duck photos I’ve taken at Botany Pond. The sexual dimorphism of color is clear.