Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
For more posts and photos, I also post on Hubpages, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Shorebirdie on Hubpages

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gender confused duck

We have one of our returning migrants visiting the lake right now.  He/she was here last year at about the exact same time.  Definitely a hybrid.  I say "he/she" because I can't tell what gender this one is!  It has an orange bill and a female quack, but also has some drake coloring and drake curls on the tail.  He/she also does the laughing quack that only females can do.  When males approach him/her, he/she does the female rejection/acceptance vocalizations.  

Here she is before sunrise:

And, just after daylight.  Notice the curls on the tail feathers.

I saw Pepper today, he likes to move and stretch his hurt wing constantly.  I was hoping I could get a photo of him flapping his wings, as he likes to do all the time, but he wouldn't do it for me.  His primaries on the hurt wing have been stripped, probably due to his constant grooming and scratching.  But, other than that, he seems very happy and energetic.

Here's a photo of the "boy band".  They are the four oldest domestic ducks at the lake:  Bigboi, Donald, Buffy2 (Latte) and the crested runner.  Buffy and the crested duck are two years old, Donald and Bigboi are at least  four years old.

I didn't see Mama and her ducklings, or any other ducklings today during the hour I was there.  It was probably just as well because there were so many predators out this morning.  I saw four hawks, a great blue heron, a great egret, black-crowned night herons, and about twenty gulls, all seeming to be out looking for Mama and her brood.  I thought I heard the babies deep in a reed bed near the boat docks and fishing pier.  Her ducklings don't sound like other ducklings, so they're hard to confuse with anything else.  But, at the same time, there was a baby pied billed grebe peeping away, so, I wasn't sure if that was them or the grebe I heard.  It was reported to me that she still had 7 ducklings as of yesterday afternoon.

Here's a photo of one of the Cooper's hawks in the area.  This one was trying to catch squirrels.  It's Big Mama Cooper's daughter from this year:

I also saw the mom that had 8 ducklings earlier in the year.  I think three of her ducklings survived, including a large male that looks like his daddy.  It turns out that the mom of that brood was the mate of Snowy, the snowy mallard.  There is another female that looks like her who had six ducklings a couple weeks ago, last seen with four a few days later.

I also saw this one young female killdeer, all alone.  I haven't seen her brother in at least a week or week and a half.  I hope nothing happened to him.  I'm not 100% sure if this is Junior's chick.

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