Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just Ducky

I've always been thrilled that our neighbors, whose backyard is far more developed than ours, have a pond, but never more so than today. Not only have the mallards returned, but they've brought a friend: a wood duck. All four, for the wood duck has apparently paired up with one of the mallard hens in a cozy way, visited our yard today, and I obligingly provided a treat of whole grain bread.

Wood ducks are stunning creatures, quite possibly one of the most beautiful native duck species in North America. Aptly named, their exotic coloring and stark, bold markings make them appear to have been carved from fine wood. As I learned from this afternoon's observation, however, they can also have quite the territorial attitude and do not tolerate any other male's attention to their perceived companions. Time will tell, of course, if this pairing is meant to last.

While all four of the ducks enjoyed the bread scraps, they also proceeded to snack on the black oil sunflower seed and millet. Not only would they take it from the ground, but one pair quickly found the recently filled platform feeder and decided that it was more convenient than ground feeding. They both tasted the peanuts, but wisely decided they weren't as tantalizing and left them for the scrub jay, who also visited this afternoon for his own treat.

The backyard excitement didn't end there, either. Earlier today, I spotted the first of the returning Cassin's finches. There is also an unusual yellow marked bird that has stumped my identification techniques; I've asked Bill Fenimore for assistance on that one and will spread the word as soon as I know. With all the excitement that I've had today, I hope your backyards are just as entertaining!


Amy H. (bird geek) said...

How cool! I don't think many people get ducks to their feeders. (I don't have a yard for feeders, but I'm thinking of at least setting up some hummingbird feeders on my balcony.) I always enjoy reading your posts/tweets.

Amy said...

Wood Ducks are so beautiful. How lucky to have one so close to your home! They're always a treat to see.

Anonymous said...

Too cute. I have never seen a duck eat from a feeder like this. Our Wood Ducks are just starting to arrive. I saw a pair hanging out with a Hooded Merganser on the way to work the other day and wanted to stop for a picture, but there was a car right behind me...of course.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I was truly surprised to see the wood duck at all, much more so that he's hanging out with mallards (and taking over as well). We'll see what develops over the season, and I'll be sure to keep you updated! :)