Friday, 2 March 2012

Lynde Shores Conservation Area -- March 1st, 2012

I went to Lynde Shores yesterday, just after the snowfall, looking for some snow shots... something different than those from the path the other day. It's like chasing rainbows. By the time I was there, most of the snow was off the trees. Maybe next year.

But there were a bunch of Mallards there and they were courting. The females were nod-swimming (lower their heads to the water), and the males were carrying on too.

I guess the males are practicing; the females aren't paying any attention.

Interesting ripples in the water.

The females were definitely outnumbered... and into nod-swimming constantly.

For those that are interested...

Mallard Mating Rituals
Mallards perform in the fall and winter as well as the spring. Their displays are subtle and brief. Males swimming in the presence of females may be seen shaking their heads (head-shake display) and tails (tail-shake), often doing the head-shake with their breasts held clear of the water and their necks outstretched.

They also raise their wingtips, heads and tails briefly and then swim with their necks outstretched and held close to the water (head-up-tail-up). Groups of four to five males may swim around females, arching their necks, whistling, then lowering their bills below the water surface and jerking their bills up to their breasts while spurting water toward the preferred female (water-flick or grunt-whistle). The water-flick may take only a fraction of a second to complete. The drakes in male groups give short, nasal "raeb-raeb" (two-syllable) calls, and short high-pitched whistles.

Female Mallards and other female ducks often demonstrate and call to provoke males to attack other males or females. In some circumstances these displays may allow the female to observe the performance of males and to evaluate them as potential mates.

To elicit displays from a group of males, a female Mallard may swim with her neck outstretched and her head just above the water (nod-swimming). When a strange male approaches a female Mallard, she often will do an inciting display, swimming after her preferred mate while producing a rapid staccato series of quacks and flicking her beak back and downward to the side. As pairs are formed, both sexes may be observed lifting a wing, spreading the feathers to expose the speculum (the patch of bright color at the trailing edge of the wing), and placing the beak behind the raised wing as if preening. Then just before copulation, the male and female typically float face-to-face and pump their heads up and down.

The great complexity of duck courtship displays probably has evolved because ducks tend to concentrate in small areas to breed, and closely related species often give their displays in plain view of each other (and of human observers, which makes them a joy to study). This has created considerable evolutionary pressure for each species to develop distinctive displays, so that hybridization among different species displaying together will be minimized. Thus, for example, the displays of Barrow's Goldeneyes are very different from those of Common Goldeneyes until the precopulatory stage is reached. In spite of this, some hybrids between Barrow's and Common Goldeneyes occur, but with nowhere near the frequency of hybrids between Mallards and Black Ducks, which have very similar displays. 


Lots of nod-swimming going on...

They encourage people to feed the Chickadees. The kids love it of course... most adults do too. Lots of school groups come here for nature outings. There were a couple bunches there today.

Off into the unknown...

A Squirrel sub-division...

Not much of a shot, so I turned it upside down... the next image.

A bit odd, but different.

No snow shots but I do find the Mallards mating antics interesting.

-fini -



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Search my Blog...