Dueling Drakes


It’s spring, finally.

The ice is off our pond, although there’s been a skiff of it every morning of late, because during the night the thermometer has still been dropping below the freezing point. But, by late afternoon, the ice is mostly gone. There’s still a lot of ice covering nearby on the deeper lakes, but I suspect it too will all be gone in a week or so, as temperatures are projected to rise.

A pair of geese are nesting out front on the pond, and the gander does an admirable job of chasing off other geese, as the pond must only be large enough for a single pair. At least that’s what the gander must think. Some days there have been several mallards, accompanied by a fair bit of fighting and chasing, and I’ve seen one ‘coupling’. Judging by the preening and primping by both that followed their tryst, they seemed to be quite pleased with themselves. Although mallards are known for having a fair amount of same sex sex, I haven’t seen any of that.

During the few days of warm and wet weather  we had before it returned to cool (more normal), the wood ducks had a good go at it too. For the better part of an hour there was a lot of chasing each other by the drakes, spurred on, it seemed, by a lot of female vocalization. All to woo the fair damsel, and entertaining to watch, for sure. Afterwards, the males have seemed to become good buds, and I’ve not seen any aggression to one another again. Somehow, I doubt the good camaraderie will last for long.

There’s also been a few hooded mergansers on our pond, and they too had a bit of a tiff among the males, but they had, it seemed, bigger issues with the gander. The gander seems to make it a pont to mix it up with all the ducks, especially if they get too close to his nest mate.

This is the first year in a while the prairies haven’t been in a spring flood state, so what impact that will have on our local waterfowl will be interesting to observe. When there is plenty of water on the prairies, that’s where most of the ducks are – but if the prairies are dry, birds move out to the forest fringe (like here in extreme northwestern Ontario). It’s not as productive, but much better than a dusty slough.

But it’s still early days. The next month will make tell the tale. Waterfowl populations, overall in North America, are doing very well.

Nice to see.

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