=•= A Mallard puzzle~human nature~and facing reality. Part l=•=
1st-3rd photos~ A few weeks ago I came upon this female Wood Duck and her new brood of 6-7 ducklings. They were in the marsh area near the bridge, where I find new Wood Duck families every year at breeding season. But, Oh My!! This female looks so small and immature, how could she possibly be a mother? Teen pregnancy?? But there she was, shepherding her brood attentively through the winding waterways flanked by tall grasses. I have always found the white eye patch surrounding the female Wood Duck’s eye so stunning—I call it the “Eye of Horus”, so seemingly ancient and full of mystery.
3rd & 4th photos~ About a week later, near dusk and a bit farther off in the lake just beyond the marsh, I spotted this group of Wood Ducks swimming with their young. I zoomed in for a closer look. Two adult females were leading a pre-bedtime swim in this small backwater. Notice their larger size compared with the “small”female in photos 1 & 2. These females are standard adult size. No puzzle here, all is as it should be.
6th & 7th photos~ Soon, I noticed an adult male Wood Duck as well(the male’s are called “drakes”). Notice his plumage. This is not adult male breeding plumage, it is the male “non-breeding plumage”. In photo 7, a comparison with the male breeding plumage(bottom photo). They are an “entourage”of two females and one male tending to these ducklings.
8th-10th photos~ In Nature, expect to be surprised. There, on the outskirts of this grouping, I was amazed to see the small female from photo 1, hanging out on the fringes looking on. Clearly she was not welcome in this grouping, but seeming eager to be invited in. In photo 8 she approaches the drake and 2 females, no invitation. In photo 9, she watches the 2 females at a distance-they ignore her....another snub.... In photo 10, she decides to swim in parallel to the females, but seems to know she must keep a respectful distance-snubbed again!
Puzzling for sure...but even more puzzling was the question of where had this little female’s brood gone to???
~•~•~ tO bE cOnTiNuEd ~•~•~
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