April 05, 2014

Canada Goose ›

Canada Goose

The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is the most known of our geese. It has a well-defined white "chin-strap" surrounded by its black head and neck. When it flies, you can see its dark wide wings, its white under tail covert and its rump's white crescent. From the country's west to east, varieties of Canada geese show different colours on their chests, from pale colours for the east canadensis to dark colours for the occidentalis in the south of Alaska. It is of smaller size in the north where it also nests; some strains are located as far as Groenland. The goose's call is a long "honk-a-lonk", well-known, low and melodious for the big races while more of a high rapid cackle for the others.

The Canada goose nests in open environments or in forests close to water. Canada geese fly V-shaped migratory flights while cackling above our heads, and mostly find their food in marshes, steppes and fields. It can spend up to 12 hours eating herbs, roots, leaves, and a variety of vegetable matter. It can also eat cereal wastes and seeds left in the fields. Facilities have allowed species to expand in the south of the area, along Canada's east and west coasts and also in the north of the United States. During winter, most of the strains seek warmer environments. Even if most of them winter in the south of Canada, many migrate to the south of the United States, and some even go as far as North Mexico! When the Canada goose begins its journey to the south, it can cover over a thousand kilometers in the air in only a day! When it is time to come back to its breeding site, its migration is very different and less performing because the number of stops to eat and rest are greater.

The female does not reproduce until it is two or three years of age. It will often choose the place it has first seen the world to nest. Next, it will come back to this same place each year to lay its eggs. Reproduction, always with the same partner, takes place soon during the year, usually between late March and early May, so the goslings can be fed with growing plants. Once the eggs are laid, they are brooded up to 28 days. The male stays close by the nest and looks after the female and the eggs in case a predator comes and threatens them. X
April 05, 2014

Bufflehead Duck ›

Bufflehead Duck

The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is the smallest diving duck in Canada. It displays a big puffed head, a steep forehead, and a short beak. The drake has a white body, a shiny black back, and has a big white spot on the back of its head. The female is duller and the side of its head is marked with a small white ovum. The young and eclipsed males look like the female. In flight, the drake displays a long white square patch from one side of its wing to the other, however, the female has a smaller white patch on her secondary wing feathers.

In limited colony, the bufflehead is present all over the country, from east to west, from Alaska to Ontario. It usually winters in the United States and it migrates south in late autumn.

Being restless little ducks, they sometimes rest by group on water. When they are not looking for food, they proudly smooth their feathers or do a courtship parade. During winter, this duck spends time on preserved shallow waters like coves, estuaries, and muddy lagoons.

When it comes to reproduction, the bufflehead prefers locations that are on the borders of small ponds often in the midst of wooded areas. It rarely nests nearby large rivers or big lakes fearing big fish that voluntarily eat small ducklings.

The drake of this species does many courtship parades, but the females only react to buffleheads a year older than they are. When they arrive to the breeding site, the bufflehead couples are already together. The female lays 5 to 14 eggs at time intervals of 24 hours in a tree hole or in a deserted woodpecker's nest. It sits on the eggs for about 30 days. Starting in mid June, the chicks are born. Between 24 and 36 hours of life, the little ones are brought to the stretch of water by their mother. The female takes care of the ducklings for a month and leaves the nest just before the mutation period. At 7 or 8 month old, the ducklings fly for the first time.

Finally, the bufflehead dives to feed. It mostly eats arthropods, insect larvae, and small crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, and amphipods). During autumn and winter, it adds aquatic plant seeds, small snails, and soft water quahogs to its diet. X
April 05, 2014

Blue-winged Teal ›

Blue-winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) is a small surface duck characterized by a slender body and a long beak.

During the courtship period, drakes display a reddish brown plumage with small darker spots, black under tail coverts, white marks on the flanks, and a dark greyish blue head with a wide pure white crescent in front of each eye. From July to October, drakes have feathers similar to the females’ and look a lot like cinnamon teals. Females and juveniles have brown speckles, a black beak, and yellowish feet. Both sexes have a greenish black speculum with a wide pale blue stripe on the superior part of the wings.

This duck species can be found from west to east on the North American continent. During winter, it can migrate as far as southern Peru. It is a breed of duck that flees from North America's arid climate and migrates sooner than its cousins to find warmth. It leaves between the end of August and mid-October and comes back only in April or May.

Just like the green-winged teal, the blue-winged teal, likes to nest close to shallow water bodies (marshes, ponds, and exposed lakes) that contain a lot of vegetation. Concerning the nesting, it likes prairies and country parks usually near water. Pair formation starts during winter and goes on during spring migration. The bowl-shaped nest is located on the ground and well hidden by grass. The female lays 9 to 13 eggs that are sat on on for 23 to 24 days. The young blue-winged teals are precocial and leave the nest less than one day after the hatching to search immediately for food. The female continues to protect and take care of them for several weeks. The surface blue-winged teal duck eats grass, aquatic plant seeds, larva insects, invertebrates, and molluscs. During migration, seeds are the main element of its diet.

April 05, 2014

Barrow's Goldeneye ›

Barrow's Goldeneye

The Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) is an average-size diving duck. The drake has a black back with white spots, white chest and flanks as well as a purplish head with a white crescent at the base of the beak. The back and flanks of the female are light brown whereas its head is darker brown.

Barrow's goldeneyes nest and winter in Canada, especially in the western region of the Rockies. Many are found in Québec, a province favoured during the species nesting period. During that time, the drake leaves for its mutation period leaving the female the abundance of food. The barrow's goldeneye mostly eats invertebrates (aquatic insects, crustaceans, and molluscs found in coastal waters).

During the reproduction, the species settles down in small fish-free alkaline lakes located prior to drainage bassins and in forests containing white birch and moss spruce that are located north of the St-Lawrence estuary and Gulf. Between 6 and 12 are laid in cavities of highly decomposed trees. Females take care of the brooding (30 days) and raising of the ducklings. The barrow's goldeneye couples last only one year. X
April 05, 2014

Arctic Loon Duck ›

Arctic Loon Duck

When it has its courtship plumage, the Arctic Loon Duck (Gavia arctica) is almost black on the top, but with wide white zones. The head and the back part of the neck are grey, the front part of the neck and the throat have a black spot with white stripes and the inferior parts are bright. During winter, both sexes are alike. Their crown and nape are grey and their back is dark grey with a few spots. The front part of their neck is white with thin black lines. Finally, their beak is also grey and really straight.

Most of the time, this duck species can be found close to coastal waters, while it can be observed close to big, deep lakes during its reproduction period from March to May. The arctic loon duck, which is monogamous, begins reproducing at the age of three. Its nest, touching water on an islet or on a shore, usually welcomes 2 olive brown eggs with dark brown spots on which the female sits on helped by the drake for about 28 days. The ducklings’ first flight usually happens in their 8th week, a period during which they are still depending on their parents because they are unable to fish on their own at the beginning of their life. The arctic loon dives to feed. Sometimes, it can go for 10 km to eat fish, the main element of its diet, but crustaceans and molluscs may be added to it from time to time!X

American Black Duck

The American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) has a dark brown body and the front of his neck and head is paler. In flight, the contrast of its white underwing with the rest of its body is stronger that the female mallard duck. The drake's beak is yellow, the female's is dull green, at times with black speckles.

The american black duck nests on wooded region lakes and rivers of woodland, fresh and salted water marshes, shallow lakes, ponds, streams, and uplands around humid zones. Small populations of this species have been introduced and are now living in British Columbia and in the state of Washington. This species also lives in the eastern and western part of Canada, along the Atlantic Coast, and to the north of the subarctic region. The american black duck can also be found a little more to the south since its migration path follows the Atlantic Coast from the St-Lawrence Gulf to the Mexico Gulf.

In some regions, the american black duck is overridden by the mallard especially when the region is exposed.

These two species often meet and even reproduce sometimes. A female american black duck's brood counts up to 12 eggs that take 28 days to hatch. The young american black ducks depend on tree boarded rivers and ponds to eat insect larvae during their two first weeks of life.
July 05, 2013

American Wigeon ›

American Wigeon Duck

In an American wigeon group of both sexes (Anas americana Gmelin), the drake's white cap is very distinctive. It can also be recognized while it flies because of its white axillars. In fact, the drake has a wide white spot on its top feathers. The same spot on the adult female feathers is greyish. The female, without a cap and top feather white spot, displays a grey throat that contrasts with its brown chest. The throat and chest colours are uniform for the american wigeon female.

This dabbler lives in marshes in the west of the continent. It eats while paddling in shallow waters, but it usually likes to graze close-packed grass in prairies and marshes. The american wigeon lives in North America's upcountry: from Alaska to the north rocky part of the United States, in the North West Territories and Yukon. The american wigeon is a species that migrates in early spring just after mallards and northern pintails. During winter, it migrates into British Columbia's littoral zones, the south of the United States, Mexico, and some of Greater Antilles' islands.

The american wigeon female's nest is always well hidden in low vegetation and built on the ground from grass and other ground material. Nevertheless, some predators like crows, skunks, and other egg-lover animals can sometimes find it. Usually, the nest is located close to water, but sometimes it is a little farther. The female sits on its eggs 24 to 25 days. Before the hatching, the american wigeon drake leaves the family nest and flies away to a significantly far away place before starting its moulting, a period during which the bird will not fly. Ducklings can start practicing flying as soon as their 37th day if the weather is consistently sunny as it often is in northern regions, while ducklings in southern regions will first fly after 48 days of life. Soon after the american wigeon ducklings' first flights, the autumn migration begins.

The calls of the drake and the female are alike. It sounds like a low muted grunting repeated three or four times.