Saturday, August 24, 2013

Duck, Duck, Goose

Ducklings hatched near our home
For some reason I've always been intrigued by ducks. Maybe it's the same reason so many children's books feature ducks and ducklings: they are accessible in the wild but are also often very approachable and can be tamed. They make great onomatopoeic sounds (Quack!) and most are really cute.

Peabody Hotel Ducks, Memphis

When Jim and I were first married, long before I became interested in birds and birding, I took photographs of ducks everywhere we vacationed. Somewhere in a box of pictures I have ducks from San Francisco, ducks in New Orleans, and ducks in Florida. The epitome of ducks on vacation are the Peabody ducks. Living in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, those ducks are always on vacation! And they get the Penthouse Suite.

Jim teased me about taking those photographs; they usually included nothing to distinguish the area where these ducks were living, so what was the point? Back then I had to pay to have the film developed and printed, only to toss the photos into a box, rarely to be looked at again. So I stopped taking photographs of ducks.

Fast forward to my new found interest in birding .... and the ducks are back, along with some geese and many other birds. The amazing thing about ducks is the sheer variety of them, and interestingly few actually have the word "duck" in their name. Not counting hybrids, there are over 100 species of ducks and they are found all over the world, except in Antarctica. Their compact bodies look sleek in the water but oddly funny as they waddle on land. They waddle along for awhile but when they take to the air, they can take off almost vertically without any "runway" build up. 

So, here are a few of my favorite ducks... Bob the Duck is a Muscovy duck, one of only two species that have been domesticated, and the presumed father of the ducklings that hatched at the pond near our home in Pflugerville. Male ducks have nothing to do with caring for babies and the mother duck only leads the ducklings around. She disappeared, with all that remained being feathers, leaving the ducklings to fend for themselves. Ironically, right after I put up Duck Crossing signs, most of the ducklings were gone. The remaining two were taken to Wildlife Rescue to be raised in the safety of a farm. Sadly, Bob disappeared a few months later, most likely also having fallen victim to our local coyotes. 

I have a fondness for the all white Pekin ducks, especially those that are experiencing a bad feather day, like this one in the lake at Murphy Park in Taylor, TX. An old breed, they date back at least to 2500 BC in China and introduced in the US in the 1870s. Pekins are a type of Mallard, the other species of domesticated ducks. 

I'm starting to notice, and identify, wild ducks but will explore those at a later time. Oh, and I'll get to the goose later, too.


  1. Jeanette, thanks for your blog and your posts on birds. I've found all your posts enjoyable and informative. Looking forward to what you post next.

    Mike Kipp

    1. Thanks, Mike. Glad that you are enjoying my ramblings. I'm already working on the next post.