Readers’ wildlife photos

March 13, 2023 • 8:15 am

I am getting wildlife photos sent to Poland, and though I don’t encourage that as they may get lost in my email, I manage to keep up by posting them as they come in (but still, keep them till I return on Friday).

Today’s batch is from Vanderbilt professor emeritus Paul Edelman. His captions and intro are indented; click on the photos to enlarge them.

Some more grist for the photo mill featuring some odd ducks.

This time of year in Nashville can be pretty slow for birding.  One’s best bet is to look around lakes and ponds as more waterfowl are around in the late winter and early spring.  So my wife and I went to Shelby Park to a small pond to see what we could see.  It turned out to be an interesting visit.

Up in the trees around the park we found an Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) looking for insects. We also spotted a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and an Eastern Bluebird (Siala sialis) sharing a look-out.  Overlooking them all was a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus).  In the marshy area next to the pond was this Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Eastern Phoebe:

Belted Kingfisher and Eastern Bluebird:

Red-shouldered Hawk:

Red-winged blackbird:

Even more interesting were the birds in the pond.  There was a large group of Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) and some Canada Geese (that I didn’t photograph—they are really nasty birds, one of only a few I actively dislike!).  Finally, there was a mix of dabbling ducks.  We saw a female American Wigeon (Mareca Penelope) swimming alone and with a male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). Female Mallards were also paddling around.   On the shore was a male Mallard with a hybrid of a Mallard with an American Black Duck (Anas rubripes).  This  cross is common enough that it often appears in field guides.  Less common, at least for me were male and female crosses of a wild Mallard with the domesticated Khaki-Campbell breed.  Further research indicates that this isn’t particularly rare—I saw similar pairs more recently at a park north of Nashville.  This proliferation of cross-breeds does make for a nightmare for novice birders, though!  My thanks for help in these identifications go to Nicole Reggia, Queen of Ducks.

Ring-billed gull:

American Wigeon (female):

American Wigeon and male Mallard:

Female mallard:

A male Mallard with a male hybrid between a Mallard and an American Black Duck (Anas rubripes):

Female hybrid between a wild Mallard and the domesticated Khaki-Campbell breed:

Female hybrid between a wild Mallard and the domesticated Khaki-Campbell breed:

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Apart from the pictures–which I enjoyed–I was amused by the author’s use of the phrase “odd ducks” to literally mean … odd ducks. That naturally made me wonder if odd ducks were the origin of the expression “odd duck.” So, I looked it up. According to Birdzilla:

    >Many people are familiar with a phrase that goes something like this: “He’s an odd duck.” It is a phrase used to denote a person that is strange, unusual, or different. Apparently the origin of the phrase is unknown. We suspect the phrase might have originated with the breeding habits of the Mallard. Mallards will mate with almost any other species of duck, and in the process produce some very strange looking or “odd ducks.” Mallards are so wide spread and their habits so consistent that strange “Mallards cross something” are quite common.

    So, the answer is probably yes!

  2. Nice batch of photos, thanks! I assume that all the mallard hybrids are sterile, but I don’t know for sure.

  3. What a good selection—the wigeon is especially cute. I like seeing the kingfisher and bluebird together in one frame.

    In front of my house, I have recently been seeing a male mallard hanging around with (I think) a domesticated Black Swedish duck. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I’ll keep my eye open for odd ducks in the area later this year.

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