Readers’ wildlife photos

Joe Dickinson sent photos from a group beloved of Professor Ceiling cat: DUCKS! His notes are indented:

Prompted by the “aesthetically challenged” Muscovy duck posted on Dec. 6, here are some more ducks ranging from strange to beautiful.

First here is a Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) that has been hanging around Aptos creek for the last few days.  Based on the  white and red on the face, it is a feral domestic.

My other nomination for petty strange (if not exactly ugly) is the surf scoter (Melanitta perspicillata).  To my eye, there is some sexual dimorphism in bill shape as well as color.  I’m sure the reader can determine which is the male.  The third photo is unusual in that he has come ashore;  as the name implies, they typically are seen in the zone where the swell starts to break just off the beach.

Speaking of sexual dimorphism, I find the common merganser (Mergus merganser) unusual, with the female displaying a striking reddish crest.  I assumed it was a male when I first saw one.

The common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is, of course, a familiar example of sexual dimorphism.  I throw this in just because I particularly like the composition.

The male wood duck (Aix sponsa) is certainly unusual but most, I think, would find it attractive. This one is in a small nature preserve in the middle of Santa Cruz (next to the sewage treatment plant).  I don’t recall seeing a female.


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Beeeutiful ducks! I did not know that the Muscovy had been domesticated.

  2. rickflick
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The wood duck is one of my favorites. The pin striping is exquisite. I can hardly believe that hunters actually shoot these things…but they do.

  3. Paul King
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    You need the wood duck’s relative, the mandarin in there. If anything more unusual and more attractive.

  4. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Newly described, extinct DinoDuckClawedRaptor thingie with a swan neck, Halszkaraptor escuilliei named for the late Polish palaeontologist Halszka Osmolska

    It’s supposed to be in “Nature”, but I can’t find it at the mo

  5. Karen E Bartelt
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Your ducks are all in a row!

  6. Posted December 9, 2017 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    But Honey?

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