Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tufted ducks and friends

Recently I have seen tufted ducks on a little river near here. (Not on the river I usually visit.)

Whenever I have seen these ducks, they are always hanging out with some ducks that are not tufted ducks. I think they are pochards. All of these ducks are diving ducks, and they look like children's toys. They look, somehow, painted.

But there are some mysteries about these ducks. Well, at least to me they are mysteries. Maybe you can help me to understand what is going on.

The first mystery is this: Where are the female tufted ducks? In the Wikipedia pictures, the female is brown. I have never seen a brown duck at the river. There seem to be only males.

The second mystery is why these two types of ducks are always hanging around together. I thought at first they were male and female, but although they are both diving ducks (I know because I have seen them both dive), I cannot find any pictures that show a male and female that look like these ones do.

I did, however, find some pictures that made me wonder whether the pochards are actually hybrid pochard/tufted ducks. But that still leaves the question of why they are all male. Unless, of course, some of them are actually female and I just haven't found the right pictures yet and matched them up.

Also, I wonder why this particular tufted duck (below) has some brownish feathers under its wings? The others are just black and white. Is it also some kind of hybrid?

And finally, did you know before seeing this picture that ducks had tongues? I didn't. Actually, I hadn't ever thought about it, and I suppose if I had I would have guessed that they did. But even so, I find this tongue rather surprising.


Nil Zed said...

mom ducks are hiding in the brush with the eggs or babies??

tinyhands said...

The mottled brown on that last quacker may indicate a juvenile that has not reached full maturity. Or it may be a winter plumage for that species, although I'd expect to see more like it.

And not only do ducks have tongues, but the tongue has a BONE in it! I was served duck tongues in a Szechuan restaurant here in Houston. They're eaten much the way crab fingers are, by scraping the meat off the flat, thin central bone with ones teeth.

Badaunt said...

Nil Zed: Isn't it too early for eggs? February is the coldest month here. Or do ducks start early?

But there is no brush for them to hide in. It's all concrete around there, unfortunately. (Of course, the females could be over at the BIG river, where there IS brush, I suppose... while the boys are off having fun elsewhere. Typical!)

Tinyhands: Tongues with bones in them? That is the creepiest factoid anybody has ever posted on my blog, I think. Thank you. I will never look at a duck in quite the same way again.

Keera Ann Fox said...

We have those kind of tufted ducks here in Norway, and both male and female are the same coloring.

Of course ducks have tongues! Have you forgotten what Donald Duck looks like? ;-)

Badaunt said...

Keera: Cross-dressing ducks! I learn something new every day. :-)

Also, I try to forget what Donald Duck looks like. I've never been a fan of Disney cartoons. Even when I was a kid, I found them a bit boring. They're block prints - fill in the lines stuff, no shading, no detail, nothing extra. I liked pictures with details that could keep you absorbed, and I am convinced that Disney cartoons are responsible for children all over the world being deprived of detail and interestingness in their lives, particularly because so many illustrators seem to have followed the 'style' (which is not a style, it is LAZINESS). They're BLAND. So there.

(How did I get started on THAT?)