Update: Honey the duck (with bonus turtles)

Honey has returned to me, and I hope she stays here at least until I leave for Poland. I have all that frozen corn and about 6 ounces of mealworms—that’s nearly 5000 of them—to dispose of.

She’s acting very skittish, and in response to my whistle this morning she emitted a series of quacks that went on for several minutes—something she’s not done before. And she stayed on her cement “duck island” and groomed herself rather than eating. I hope she’s ok and was sufficiently full that she didn’t need breakfast. Here she is with her resplendent blue speculum:

Or is it purple? In fact, depending on the angle, it can look either color:

Action shots of wing-flapping, ducking, butt-shaking, and grooming—necessitated by low light and a 1/30 second shutter speed:

And a video of grooming (I’m not sure why she keeps dipping her bill in the water, but some reader will surely enlighten me:

Honey shares the pond with big goldfish (I guess they’re “koi”), lots of red slider turtles, and some crawfish. She hates the goldfish, which tend to swarm under her as she swims, having learned that there’s food around where she is. She can tolerate the sliders though she gets startled when they touch her feet or belly.

The sliders love relaxing on the lily pads in the sun; like many reptiles, they use the sun to increase their body temperature since they’re cold-blooded (“poikilothermic”):

How many sliders do you see?

A lazy ol’ turtle catching some rays. It looks like he’s saying “this is my pad!”

 

 

26 Comments

  1. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Nice photos, Jerry.

  2. Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Nice!

    Looks like it’s time to install a “Turtle Island” like I’ve put in our pond! (We are version 2; version 1 has just about sunk.) I suppose the UofC Facilities folks would frown upon such modifications …

  3. busterggi
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Is it blue? Is it purple?

    Egad, these optical illusions always get me.

    Time to get a passport for Honey.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Quite plausibly not an optical illusion. In both dinosaurs (including avian dinosaurs), non-dinosaurian “reptiles”, and several non-vertebrate groups, there are well-known “structural colours” which are produced by constructive (or destructive) interference on reflected & diffracted light from protein structures – which includes feathers. It is well within the bounds of possibility that the mallard (?) wing flash colour is a combination of reflection from a dye or pigment (the same in all directions) and a different “structural colour” seen from certain directions only. Which would result in a patch that changes apparent colour at different orientations.
      If PCC(E) were to get a diffraction grating combined with a line-mask which could clip over his phone lens, there is at least a fighting chance of detecting the two hypothesised components.
      (I must admit to having considered and rejected such toys for myself. Though with the question of fluorescence quantification arising again in a different forum, I do wonder if it’s worth trying.)

  4. Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Nine sliders. That is pretty impressive!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Umm. Brain fade. Sliders are … something you use on a guitar fretboard, isn’t it?

  5. Liz
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s sort of periwinkle. So beautiful.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      It’s bright.
      It’s natural.
      It probably means either “sex”, “poison”, or both.

  6. Glenda
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed photos. Thnx. Will be interesting to see who leaves the area first – Honey or PCC.

  7. Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    That’s a lot of turtles! Are they breeding there, or are they all ex-pets?

    And what happens to them in the winter?

    • Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure they bury themselves in the mud and cut their metabolism down to zero. When the spring comes, there are big sliders there, so they must have persisted over winter.

      • Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        It must be pretty close to zero, because surely they can’t breathe like that? [Obviously I have learned nothing about biology even after years of following your website.]

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          It must be pretty close to zero, because surely they can’t breathe like that?

          If they have limited gas exchange (e.g., through nasal mucosa, or for that matter cloacal mucosa), then they don’t need to go down to “zero” metabolism.
          Quod vide lungfish, which survive years as fish out of water.

  8. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    10 +/-1 sliders. I’m hedging.

    “Koi”, “sliders” and “crawfish” are rather nonspecific names. Someone should study and document the natural history of your marvelous pond. Like, how do the sliders survive a Chicago winter?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      I was thinking too there must be a helluva food supply for have ‘turtles all the way down’.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Our lake back in Iowa was loaded with turtles of all kinds and the winters are similar to Chicago. They survive, I assume hibernate? The ice could be a foot thick sometimes.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          Chemist’s rule of thumb : 10degC temperature drop is a factor of 2 in reaction rate. So dropping from 25C to 5C quarters oxygen demand.
          [BLINK][BIGLETTERS]-ish[/BIGLETTERS][/BLINK]

  9. Sabine
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    10. I see ten sliders. Thanks for sharing! No offense to Honey, but I love turtles😊

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      9 🐢’s.

  10. davidintoronto
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    WEIT membership feedback:

    Thank you for the duck photos! They’ve been lots of fun. (And educational too. I learned about mail-order meal worms.)

    Cheers,

  11. Hempenstein
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Assuming that Honey does eventually fly off, if she does return next season, when would it be reasonable to expect that?

    And I got nine sliders.

  12. Frank Bath
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    To the best of my knowledge we don’t have wild sliders in the UK but we do have imported terrapins, introduced during the Ninja craze. Owners dump them in the public ponds and water courses where, full grown, they terrorise the native water life, up to and including ducks. Big problem.

  13. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I share the startled feeling of sudden touch sensation during bathing! Though it is likely often air bubbles or swirls.

    And a video of grooming (I’m not sure why she keeps dipping her bill in the water, but some reader will surely enlighten me

    I cannot get that video to work. However I have seen what I believe to be the same basic behavior in other birds when bathing in water.

    I have a hypothesis which is mine. It could be instinctive behavior to wash away parasites. (Or even drown them, in land birds.) Then again, I now seem to remember a discussion on this site about how much birds smell and taste!? If they do – and why should they not, it is protective – then getting rid of bad taste is a simpler explanation I guess. (And of course they could both be in play. Or none, I have not seen studies on this.)

  14. Cindi Deschane
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    She is a beautiful “blue winged Teal”..

    From: Why Evolution Is True Reply-To: Why Evolution Is True Date: Friday, August 25, 2017 at 12:01 To: Subject: [New post] Update: Honey the duck (with bonus turtles)

    whyevolutionistrue posted: “Honey has returned to me, and I hope she stays here at least until I leave for Poland. I have all that frozen corn and about 6 ounces of mealworms—that’s nearly 5000 of them—to dispose of. She’s acting very skittish, and in response to my whistle this “

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      No, actually she’s a mallard; the blue-winged teal is a different species in the same genus (Anas).

  15. Andrea Kenner
    Posted August 31, 2017 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    She is really beautiful. You did a good job, Dad!


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