Frisky Friday

August 19, 2022 • 1:15 pm

Our population of ducks at Botany Pond is low: we have about five or six leftover offspring from Audrey’s brood (she herself is long gone), “Billie”, a duck with a beak that won’t close completely (he’s fine, though), a couple of itinerant drakes who are aggressive and unwanted, a duck with an injured leg (I’m very concerned about her), and “Rusty”, a hen with a bright orange bill and orange on her tail.

Sadly, Honey has left the pond, but she left well fed and fully feathered. I’ll miss her, but she did come back to the safety of the pond to molt. I wonder where she goes?

And then, to our delight, the wood duck male we named “Frisky” (Aix sponsa), who’s been here every year for three years, is gracing us with his presence. He’s alone this time (two years ago he had a girlfriend named Ruth and a mate named Blockhead), but he’s hanging around, eating everything he can and resting, as usual, on top of the “Sacred Knob” of one of the Bald Cedar trees. He’s excellent at nabbing pellets in the pond and avoiding the larger mallards.

He’s only now beginning to molt, but he’s beautiful, and his antics—he’s agile and has never been pecked, and sometimes even chases the much larger ducks—keep us endlessly amused.

Here are some photos of Frisky, and, at the end, one from last year showing what he’ll look like when his molt is over. I hope he stays until then.

Preening with a splash:

Shaking himself:

And flapping his wings so fast that the camera can barely capture them. Look at those lovely red eyes!

Looking up:

Frisky on his Sacred Knob, where he always goes to rest. After all, he’s a wood duck.

The “open bill” gesture, which I never saw him use before, is an aggressive action, and one he uses this year when chasing other ducks or warning them off:

Here’s a video by Jean Greenberg showing Frisky splashing and bathing, and then, with a brief flutter of his wings, he mounts the Sacred Knob:

Frisky moves so fast in the water that if you want a good photo, it’s best to take it when he’s on the Knob:

This is his plumage as of yesterday afternoon. It’s lovely, what with the red eyes and beak and the iridescent blue feathers. . . .

. . . but after his molt, he’s going to look like this, growing a crest on his head and his pate turning bright green. His breast will get brown and he’ll also develop more blue on his body feathers and white lines on his head.

This is truly America’s most gorgeous duck (except for Honey).  Photo of Frisky from October, 2020:

9 thoughts on “Frisky Friday

  1. Always appreciate the updates from Botany Pond. The videos, photos and notes are great. Kind of wondering if there are photos of the hen Rusty with her orange colour bits. Thanks to the entire team.

  2. I would love to hear more about the workings of Team Duck. Are the duck names decided upon by the group, or do they just evolve? How many people are on Team Duck? Does Team Duck operate all year?

    1. It varies with people’s schedules: right now we have three to four, sometimes five to six. Duck names can be suggested by anyone, but I get the final approval. When the pond is frozen over and the ducks gone, the team disbands; and this year they will be dredging the pond so there will be no Team Duck from this fall to the spring of 2024.

  3. I wonder where she [Honey] goes?

    I’ll bet there’s a long list of drakes who wonder where that little strumpet disappears to, too.

    A born heartbreaker, that one.

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