Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mallard X Mold

Mallards are our largest dabbling ducks. They are found everywhere from urban ponds and drainage ditches to large lakes. Up the road from us in Bath, there is an outdoor hockey rink. Every spring when the ice finally thaws, there is a pair of Mallards that hang around in the melt water. I look forward to them as a sign of spring. These ducks were photographed in the wild in their 'natural' habitat. The female below is clearly a Mallard and has the classic orange and black bill and dark eye line, elegant! We'll call her Maybelline. The male appears to be crossed with some other kind of duck. I'm guessing by his mottled cheeks that his parents were a mix of Mallard and domestic duck (Mallard X domestic) which is common. Or, perhaps since we've had heavy rain here for almost two weeks straight, it could be mold. Even ducks have their limits of how much water they can take! I vote for mold. I will confess that I didn't get out of my car for the shots. I had gone to a garden center and purchased plants for a customer. My car was as loaded as it could be with greenery. My car usually looks like it is operated by a headless driver because I'm so short. This day, my car looked as if it were being operated by shrubs. So, when I saw the ducks in the marsh as I was whizzing along, I was able to pull right up to them. They didn't take any notice of the moving bushes. I was able to put down my window and shoot through the four foot tall Japanese irises in the passenger's seat. Leon Leonwood of L.L. Bean fame couldn't have come up with better camo. than that!


  1. Do I detect a hint -- just a hint --of female chauvinism in our Chaotic Correspondent??

  2. ORRRR; could he be slightly albino,like a cardinal
    we had here a few years ago ? He was red and
    white blotchy sort of like the ducky.

  3. I'm told on good authority that the green in mallards heads, like that of nearly all water bird's feather coloration, is acually microscopic scales that migrate out from the skin, along the feathers and finally sluffs off, not unlike human skin.
    When birds preen (not all do) they spread oils from the skin, along the feathers. This serves both to keep them floating and also to lock on the color scales.
    Alas, when any bird gets too rained on for too long,(quite rare among ducks) the coating breaks down and the color starts to wear off. D'ya think that accounts for the neutral hues on Mr. Mallard? the saltn'peppah on Controlled Chaos!

  4. Dear City Slicker From Phippsburg:

    The mallard gentleman in question is going through his yearly mold. Sometimes this occurs later in the summer, just so long as he has all his flight feather back in place before migration time in the fall. If he has kids, he is likely to keep all his feathers in place a bit longer. No kids, an earlier molt.

    P. S. As the snakes grow, you will find that they seem to have MOLD from time to time, too.


    Wildlife Photographer And Magazine Writer From Maryland

  5. Actually I think you are right with it being a Mallard/Black hybrid,but I am not sure.I am so fed up with the suckiest June I can personally remember weather wise.Maybe a glimmer of sun tomorrow.