Only some ducks “quack.” Others may squeak, grunt, chirp, growl or whistle!
The day is crisp and brisk, with the last of the snow laying in patches along the nature trail. The sunshine has slight warmth to it, a pleasant reminder of warm spring days to come. I love this time of year. I call it the “quickening” as plant life is stirring and tiny buds are forming. This is a great time of year to see and learn about new things in nature.
Did you know there are many different types of ducks in the area? So far I have identified fourteen species, and that is not including other water fowl such as the Loons and Grebes. While the Mallard (with its distinctive green head as seen in the cover image) is well known and loved in this area, there are many different varieties. Wilden has plenty of Mallards, but also many other beautiful and interesting ducks.
Some ducks dabble while others dive when looking for food. The Mallards are dabbling ducks, meaning their heads go under water while their butts stick up. The diving ducks submerge themselves under water. An exception is the plain brown Gadwall which can dabble and dive, using either, depending on the food source. There are also perching ducks; an example is the Wood duck. The male’s plumage is a stunning iridescent chestnut and green, with white trim, and it looks to be wearing a little helmet. Perching means the duck sits in trees using its strong sharp claws to hold on to the branch. Wood Ducks also nest in tree holes or nest boxes. They maneuver well while flying through the forest with their short wings. I have to admit, I have never seen a duck flying through the forest, I suspect it would look rather odd.
If you see bright black and white ducks on the pond or lake you are likely seeing members of the Golden Eye family (sounds like something from an old James Bond movie). These small ducks are great divers and underwater swimmers, they have bright yellow eyes. The females are more of a subdued brown and grey colour with some white.
If you see a duck with a sky-blue bill and tail held upright, especially noticeable during mating season, then you have seen the Ruddy Duck. The male Ruddy Duck looks a little like a cartoon character.
There are many more ducks to discover, the distinctive Hooded Merganser, the Wigeon with its white forehead, the gleaming black, grey and white Ring-necked Duck and the Teals, to name a few. With mating season just about here, the males are in full colour ready to impress a prospective mate. This is a great time to learn more about these fascinating birds.
-Article by Flora McLeod
We hope this article will help you to identify some of the ducks you may see on a walk alongside or around one of our ponds in Wilden. We would love to see your discoveries. Post a picture on Instagram and use #wildenkelowna or email us your captures to [email protected] 🙂