Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

If you get two posts on the same subject tonight, don’t blame me.  My first attempt was eaten by WordPress without being published.  That happens from time to time.  When it does the post usually disappears into the ether, but every once in a while it shows up later.  So, fair warning.

I had attempted to post about dabbling ducks, specifically, Northern Shovelers.  As I mentioned in a previous post about Ruddy Ducks, ducks are generally divided into two broad categories, divers and dabblers.  Divers dive for their food and dabblers feed on the surface or just below the surface of the water.

Northern Shovelers are quintessential dabbling ducks.  They have evolved gigantic beaks equipped with strainers.  They feed very much like some whales, skimming plankton and other small aquatic life from the water and straining it through their beaks.  Their summer range includes the Great Plains states and the Pacific Northwest, extending all the way up the Pacific Coast and throughout Alaska.  In winter, huge numbers of them head for southern Arizona.

The males are extremely colorful and as the winter progresses their plumage becomes brighter and brighter.  Here’s a male whose plumage has not completely attained its full breeding brilliance.

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And, here’s another male, whose plumage is more evolved, trailed by his girlfriend.

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Females are mostly beige in color but they are graceful birds nonetheless.  They share one characteristic with the males and that is an enormous beak.

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Shovelers, like all ducks, love to engage in plumage displays accompanied by vigorous wing flapping.  They do this as a part of their grooming but I’ve also seen them do it in confrontations with rivals and in apparent efforts to attract mates.  You’ll notice that the bird’s secondary plumage equals its primary plumage for brilliance.

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Photos taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, exposures varied.


One response to “Dabblers”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    Even though these female ducks are not flamboyant in comparison with their mates, they have subtle but beautiful markings.

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