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I observed a Mallard drake the other afternoon, standing in the shallow creek at Sweetwater Wetlands. He posed, perfectly comfortably, on just one leg and maintained that posture for at least 10 minutes. At first, I wasn’t going to photograph him, but the more I watched him, the more fascinated I became.
Finally, and after what seemed to be an eternity, he lowered his leg to the ground and assumed a “normal” duck posture. I decided that the show was over and prepared to move on. Suddenly, the duck assumed a new posture, extending his neck and twisting it like a contortionist, opening his mouth, and partially raising his wings.
Bizarre. The pose looked very aggressive and it reminded me a bit of the angry stance that a goose would take when confronting a threat. The drake posed this way for nearly a minute. Then, he relaxed, joined his mate, who was sitting in the water just a few feet away, and the two of them began calmly paddling around.
I have no idea what this duck was doing. Was there a nearby and invisible potential aggressor? There are numerous Cooper’s Hawks at the wetlands and, perhaps one of them was roosting unseen and above us. There’s also a Bobcat that has been hanging around recently (I’ll post pictures of it soon) and the duck may have sensed its presence even if I didn’t see it. Or, maybe, he was just engaging in a stretching exercise.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, f6.3 @ 1/640.