Friday, January 8, 2016

Just some Mallards

I so clearly recall being reprimanded for saying "It's just some Mallards" during a field outing of the spring ornithology workshop at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Of course, even a commonplace bird is to be appreciated.  With that lesson in mind, I am sharing some Mallard behaviors that I observed today, January 8.  I went to a nearby mill pond for no greater purpose than getting some practice.  Timing is just as important in bird photography as it is in catching a ball.  These birds are used to people, and I could comfortably sit in my car and wait for them to drift into range. It was just practice.

Now, it is in the dead of winter and I did not expect the Mallards to be paired up and thinking about spring, but some clearly were.  This pair stayed close together and were attentive of one another. The plumage reinforces the lesson that it is not just some Mallards. The colors are grand. 

Well, I said they were attentive, but it is sometimes protective.  When the female has a drake in attendance, she is not going to be harassed by a score of other drakes.  There are consequences to getting too close.

Absent the interloper, the pair will often display, he with a head bobbing or dipping the beak into the water.  She will respond with bobbing, and sometimes respond with a submissive pose. Aren't they a handsome pair?  Look at the fine pattern below his wings and the clear colors.

I was surprised that in early January these ducks were so amorous, and they wasted no time showing their intent.

December was the warmest on record in New York, and I wonder if some of the ducks are confused.   It is surely too early to be nesting.

This proved to be a rewarding practice with a small bonus when a male Wood Duck approached showing some attitude.

Isn't he amazing?