April 05, 2014

Northern Pintail ›

Northern Pintail

The Northern Pintail drake (Anas acuta) has a chocolate-brown head and a white neck and underparts, the white extending up back of neck in thin line. The female, with shades of brown, has a paler neck and head, and a greyish beak. In flight, they both display a long neck, a thin body, long pointy wings, and a dark speculum bordered with white on the edge. The flying female has brown spotted top feathers that contrast with its stomach and its long wedge-shaped tail. However, it does not have the same long rectrices as the male.

A large quantity of northern pintail ducks can be found in marshes, ponds, and exposed lakes. This duck often eats in cereal fields during winter. A lot more common in the west than in the east of the country, this duck species is rare in winter in the north of the country to the Great Lakes as well as to the south of Alaska.

The northern pintail especially likes night time and it builds its nest in a cavity in the ground. The nest, covered with vegetation and female down, is hidden in swampy vegetation. The nesting period takes place between May to September. The female's brood counts 7 to 11 eggs which necessitate an incubation period of 22 to 24 days. The ducklings are precocial and able to leave the nest very early. Only the female takes care of the ducklings. The northern pintail ducklings' first flight happens after 40 days, but it takes them about 10 more days to be completely emancipated.

Being a surface duck, this species feeds in shallow waters and grazes on the ground. The northern pintail is mainly vegetarian (leaves, seeds, and swampy plant buds), but it also eats cereal from the fields, crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic insects. X
April 05, 2014

Mallard Duck ›

Mallard Duck

The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos) is the most well-known species in America because of its physical characteristics, but mostly because of the drake's green head. Like every other duck species, the drake is very different compared to the female. It has a coloured plumage: shiny green head, white collar, brown chest, grey flanks, brown back, black tail and rump. The female displays less colours than the drake. Its plumage is brown and white, however, just like the male it has a blue speculum bordered with white.

The mallard nests all across North America. During its reproduction period in spring, it can be found in the north of the United States and as far as the Bering Sea in Alaska. In this distribution range, the mallard likes better the large prairies full of humid zones that pave the way for reproducing and nesting. This duck species leaves its wintering area early (February or March). A lot of mallards prefer the western part of North America, but some also choose the east or the west of Canada. During winter, the mallard can be observed everywhere in the United States. Others winter in British Columbia, Alberta, and Northern Mexico. Their autumn migration towards the south usually begins in the end of September or in early October.

The mallard duck is a dabbler, it means that it does not dive underwater to feed. It eats natural and domestic (cereals) food : aquatic plants and herbaceous. Sometimes, it also eats other animals like mussels, insects, and invertebrates. During the laying period (spring), the female exchanges its vegetarian diet for aquatic insects. It gives the female the necessary amount of energy for the laying.

The mallard female's eggs hatch between late April and late May. During the ducklings' first weeks, the mother teaches them how to swim and feed alone. After two months, the duckling's plumage is complete and it will be able to fly.

April 05, 2014

Long-tailed Duck ›

Long-tailed Duck

The Long-tailed Duck or oldsquaw (Clangula hyemalis) is a diving duck. Its head, neck and back are brown and its cheeks grey. The drake keeps this aspect from late spring to early summer. During winter, its head and neck become white whereas a brown spot covers its cheeks' extremity to its neck superior part. The long feather of its tail distinguishes it from other duck species. The female is duller and displays a short tail, a dark back, and a white stomach.

During summer, the species can be found in lakes and ponds of the tundra as well as on coasts and islands. During other seasons, it can also be seen along the northern Québec coasts and in the Ungava Bay. The long-tailed duck mostly eats molluscs and crustaceans.

Couple formation takes place during winter in the tundra. The female is responsible for the nesting spot. It usually prefers an islet high on vegetation to hide eggs from predators. The female lays 6 to 8 eggs that are sat on for 26 days. X
April 05, 2014

Hooded Merganser ›

Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) has a black head and neck. As a distinctive sign, this duck wears a crest and displays a big white triangle behind its yellow eye. The hooded merganser's back is black and changing to brown close to its rump, its fore wings are grey, its flanks reddish brown and its chest and stomach white. Two little arcs extending towards the chest are present on each side of the shoulders. This duck has a hooked beak and teeth to catch crayfish, snails, frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects and little fish. It also eats seeds and aquatic plants.

The hooded merganser lives in small lakes, beaver ponds, peat bogs, swamps, rivers and forest streams where the water is clear. It loves the north east humid zones of the United States that are located south of Canada and east of Mississippi. It is usually found in western Québec or in the mid part of the province and rarely in the east of the Saguenay River. It migrates early when ponds start freezing.

During the nesting period, it builds its nest in holes dug by woodpeckers in trees and stumps. The female lays 5 to 12 eggs which she will sit on and raise alone. The female hooded merganser is part of those species that lay eggs in nests of congeners and even in nests of other types of ducks like the wood duck and the common goldeneye. It can even raise two species at the same time. X
April 05, 2014

Hawaiian Goose ›

Hawaiian Goose

The Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis) is a relative of the Canada goose, but it lives on hawaiian islands. It is non aquatic and sedentary. Its wings are short and its feet semipalmated. Its body is dreary and striated with chestnut brown, its neck is buff yellow and criss-crossed with black and its face is black. The hawaiian goose eats small fruit and plants located on volcanos' high slopes. It actually nests on volcanic lava-covered slopes where vegetation is sparse, between 1525 and 2440 meters high.

The species reproduction starts as soon as January when it is 2 or 3 years of age. The female builds the nest on the ground and surrounds it with vegetation. It lays 2 to 6 beige eggs and sits on them for 28 to 30 days. The drake prefers to watch threatening predators from a distance. The young hawaiian gooses have thick feathers between their tenth and twelfth week of life.

Long ago the species was plentiful, but for miscellaneous reasons including the introduction of mammal predators such as dogs, cats, pigs, mongooses, and others, hawaiian geese have been dispersed in a few little groups in the beginning of the 20th century. In 1952, there were only 30 birds left even if hunting of the species was prohibited in 1911. Today, because of the animal breeding, we can count 550 individuals of this Hawaii island emblem. X
April 05, 2014

Harlequin Duck ›

Harlequin Duck

The Harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) is a small-size seabird with a round head, a beveled beak, and a stocky body. The male's body plumage is remarkable because of the bright colours displayed. It is striped with dark blue, ochre, and white bands. The female's brown feathers are more discreet and help it camouflage when nesting comes. Three white spots on each side of its head distinguish it from other female ducks. The ducklings look just like an adult female duck.

The harlequin duck mostly eats invertebrates (larvae, blackflies, snails, caddisflies, mayflies) and it winters along the Atlantic and Pacific Coast regions. In the summer, between April and September, it spends the season on the ground where it nests close to torrents, mostly near Banff and other mountain parks. It loves fast watercourses and high mountain lakes. It prefers undisturbed wild environments where water is clear and limpid.

This species is a master in the art of nesting camouflage in low grass, stumps, tree trunks, wood debris, and big rocks in watercourses. The female is responsible for finding a good nesting spot. Most of the time, it lays 5 to 7 eggs and sits on them 28 to 30 days. After the laying, the harlequin drake leaves the nest to return to the coasts. X
April 05, 2014

Green-winged Teal ›

Green-winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) is considered as the smallest dabbler duck. The drake's brown head has a big green band with a white border. The female is different from other teals because of its smaller beak and its almost all-white under tail coverts that contrast with its spotted flanks. Green-winged teals, agile and fast in flight, have a green speculum bordered with buff in the front and with white in the back. The drake, part of the carolinensis species, is found in almost all North America and has a vertical white streak on the side. The crecca species, from Eurasia, does not have a white streak on the side, but has one on the scapulars. The crecca species is common in Aleutian Islands and in Pribilof Islands, but rarer in North America especially on the continent's east and west coasts. The North American species, carolinensis, is sometimes considered as a distinct species found all across Canada and from central United States to Alaska.

It migrates early in spring compared to its blue-winged cousin. This teal species lives everywhere there is water, as long as the flow is soft and that it can fulfill its needs in terms of food. In fact, it does not migrate to the South as long as humid zones high on food are not frozen. That way, its diet is composed of vegetal matter, seeds, micro-organisms filtered with its beak: insect larvae, crustaceans, and molluscs. During summer, green-winged teals prefer ponds, artificial water bodies, and lakes with lush vegetation. During winter, it goes on covert large water bodies, flat and sandy coasts, maritime-climate lagoons and marshes.

The green-winged teal usually builds its nest on stable ground, well-hidden in grass or bushes near water. Between April and June, the female lays 8 to 11 eggs that are sat on 25 to 30 days. The small precocial ducklings are already covered with down when they are born and ready to leave the nest to feed on their own with the help of their parents once their eggs have hatched.