Winter Duckfest Part IV — Mallard, Cleared For Landing
You may enlarge any image in this blog by clicking on it. Click again for a full screen image.
I took this photo recently of a Mallard Drake coming in for a landing.
As you can see from the image it was an overcast and windy afternoon and the duck had to fight the wind a bit in order to land without slamming into the water and embarrassing himself. It was no problem for this Mallard, he handled the situation with aplomb, clearing the ducks swimming beneath him and touching down neatly.
I like this image for a couple of reasons. First, the perspective is a bit unusual. Catching a duck in flight from behind is something I don’t ordinarily do. From this perspective one gets a good feel for the mechanics of landing. Notice that the Mallard has fanned out his tail feathers. That, plus the ducks’s extended wings and feet, creates air resistance and serves as a brake, slowing the duck enough so that it can land easily. The second reason that I like this image is that it depicts a vibrant display of the Mallard’s secondary wing feathers. The intensely violet plumage is not visible when the duck is at rest with his wings folded or paddling on the surface. It only becomes observable when he spreads his wings.
Now, it’s a good question as to why the Mallard would have evolved such beautiful plumage if it is concealed most of the time. I don’t know the answer but that won’t stop me from speculating. Perhaps this plumage evolved as a way of signaling other members of the same species that this is a Mallard in flight so as to enable the ducks to join up with each other and fly in formation. Just a guess on my part, I certainly could be wrong.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f5.6 @ 1/800.