Friday, March 29, 2013

Wood Duck - Homage to the Hen

It was a marvelous Spring morning along the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia - delightful temperatures, brilliant blue sky, few people, and 25-30 Wood Ducks.

The drake Wood Duck is arguably the most beautiful North American duck - brilliantly colored, showy - even gaudy. I have known many people who, when given a good look at the drake, catch their breath in astonishment. With good reason ...


But ... when I moved to Vermont 15 years ago, a neighbor (now friend and birding companion) advised, almost off-handedly, not to overlook the hen - that she was the most attractive female duck in North America, a rival to the male of some other species. She is easy to overlook. When seen together, attention is naturally drawn to her mate ...


My friend was, and is right. With wonderful lighting and conditions, and many opportunities, I focused my camera's attention on the Wood Duck hen. Here is a homage to a beautiful lady ...






As I walked along Forbidden Drive, most of the males who were warming themselves on the sunny shore of the creek, quickly retreated to the opposite side. Not this hen, she found something tasty on the creek bottom, and she was not put off as I crept close to spy on her. She simply dabbled away ...



The Wood Ducks on the Wissahickon are wild, but opportunistic, sometimes mixing in with the semi self-domesticated Canada Geese and Mallards, and competing with them for the bread crumbs which people throw. This hen, bless her, did not allow the testosterone driven, aggressive drake, nor the many-times larger goose, to intimidate her. She grabbed the soggy morsel, and it was gone. ... 


Dessert to the visual Wood Duck feast, was the repetitive call of the Eastern Phoebe, and the first tentative bubbling of the Winter Wren. Spring! ... and Good Birding!

2 comments:

Larry said...

Those are great photos Chris! Male Wood Ducks are all of what you described but I wouldn't say they're cute (I still remember that post).
I especially like #6 that gives good detail of the feathers on the back of the head.

OpposableChums said...

Amen. I always felt that the Wood Duck hen was overlooked in the shadow of her showy mate.

Now howza bout some pix of the female Cardinal?

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