We saw this little guy cruising around the irrigation ditch today on our way into town for lunch. He’s an immature male wood duck. You can see the beginnings of his trademark iridescent green head and crest. I would have loved more time to photograph him, but Wyokiddo was in the car waiting. Periodically she would call out things like “MAMA! Don’t scare the duck away!” or “Mama, c’mon! We’ve got to get to town!” So all I had was time for a few quick snaps, then it was back in the car and in to town.
Lack of composition time aside, it was a fun sighting. This was my first wood duck photo op. Wood ducks are beautiful, and so unique among their duck brethren. These ducks are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches. You’ll see them sitting in trees or perched on logs or other structures. Wood ducks like wooded swamps. They’ll nest in holes in trees or use established nest boxes.
This encounter makes me excited for the fall and the variety of waterfowl that will be passing through our neck of the woods, er, pastures. Ducks and geese, along with other waterfowl like cranes and herons, follow ancient pathways from their breeding grounds to wintering areas. Now that we live on the other side of the state, we’re in a different flyway, or path, for migrating birds. A different path means different birds and more opportunities to cross off some additional ducks and geese on my species ID list. And hopefully a little more time with a wood duck!