Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 4: Pairs of ducks

Spent the day with a bird guide friend exploring the southern Maine coast, starting at Nubble Light in York and working our way up through Wells. According to him, numbers of geese and black ducks are increasing in the marshes, meaning these waterfowl are making their way northward. Offshore, loons are beginning to molt into breeding plumage and get their spots back. Eiders coo and posture, begin to pair off, as do other ducks: goldeneyes, mergansers, scoters, Long-tailed, and the beautiful Harlequins. (The Black Scoter makes a plaintive sound that sounds just like my cat when she's hungry. One can't help but anthropomorphize and hear the longing in their voices.)

These birds breed further north. Courtship and pairing up now, while snow flurries still fill the air and they're far from nesting, will save time when they reach their breeding grounds. There, with a partner already established and courting out of the way, they can then get right to work mating and laying eggs.

Eider drakes show off,
wooing the russet hens.
High school was like this.

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