Thursday, May 14, 2009
EVERY DUCK HAS HER DAY.
I can remember as a child thinking how terribly unfair it was that the vast majority of female birds were clad in drab, dull plumage whilst their mates got to strut around in every colourful and outrageous outfit imaginable. As I got a little older and started to learn more about nature the fact that this was an attempt to make the female less conspicuous while sitting on eggs was just another example for me of how brilliantly nature was 'worked out.'
The Mallard Anas platyrhynchos is a perfect case in point. We are all so familiar with the magnificent males with their iridescent green headgear and their vivid orange beaks but how often do we really notice the females? I was walking in the park when I saw this one sitting quietly at the waters edge. She looked so comfortable I didn't want to disturb her by getting too close but she just looked so perfect sitting in the sunlight that I had to take her photo. This species is so common to most of us that we rarely give them a second glance but really we should.
I walked a little further around the pond and saw this charming flotilla sailing towards me
If ever a mother duck was going to be accused of bursting with pride, this would be the one. She had twelve tiny little bundles of fluff swimming along behind her. Of course the chances of more than two or three surviving to adulthood are very slim but they did make a very appealing sight.
Mallards are one of the species of birds that produce precocial chicks. This means that from the day that they emerge from the egg they are covered in fluffy down and are capable of running around. As soon as they have finished absorbing their embryonic nutrients they will also feed themselves without ever having to be reliant on their parents to bring them food.
Mallard ducklings always make me think of little aquatic bumble bees!
For a bird that the field guides describe as 'Brownish all over with mottled streaking of buff, white, and dark brown.' They certainly do produce some outrageously endearing offspring!
Photo Credits - CJT
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