Blog Archive: Ducks

Birdorable Harlequin Duck

2015 Bonanza Bird #17: Harlequin Duck

December 17th, 2015 in Birdorable Bonanza 2015, Ducks, New Birds 7 comments

Our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues today with a beautiful and colorful sea duck: the Harlequin Duck!

Birdorable Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks are very beautiful sea ducks found along coastal waters across North America and eastern Asia. The species prefers fast-moving water and will frequently breed near fast-flowing streams.

The male Harlequin Duck has a striking plumage for which the species is named. Harlequin was a colorful masked character from an Italian style of improvisational comedy theater called "commedia dell'arte". Harlequin was a relatively late addition to the art form, and was popularized when the theater movement gained success in France.

The Harlequin Duck's colorful plumage gives it a lot of interesting alternative local names, including Painted Duck, Totem Pole Duck, White-eyed Diver, and Blue Streak. They have also earned the nicknames Sea Mouse and Squeaker from one of their more un-ducklike high-pitched vocalizations.

Harlequin Ducks feed by diving or by dabbling. They will take marine invertebrates, fish, and aquatic insects as prey. Algae and seeds may also be consumed.

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Harlequin Duck by peggycadigan (CC BY 2.0)
Harlequin Duck
Harlequin Duck by Matt Tillett (CC BY 2.0)

The Harlequin Duck is our 633rd Birdorable bird. Be sure to check out our collection of apparel and gifts featuring the Birdorable Harlequin Duck!

Our Bonanza continues tomorrow with the largest bird of prey of Australia. Can you guess tomorrow's species?

Birdorable Mandarin Duck

2015 Bonanza Bird #4: Mandarin Duck

December 4th, 2015 in Birdorable Bonanza 2015, New Birds, Ducks 5 comments

Today our Birdorable Bonanza: 2015 Advent Edition continues with a beautiful species of dabbling duck from eastern Asia: the Mandarin Duck.

Birdorable Mandarin Duck

Male Mandarin Ducks, like our cute Birdorable cartoon version here, are strikingly beautiful, with a unique colorful plumage. The flanks are ruddy, with a contrasting purple breast outlined in black and white. The forehead is teal and the dark eyes stand out against a white crescent-shaped stripe. Two orange sail-like tufts appear at the back.

Mandarin Ducks are closely related to the Wood Duck of North America. Mandarins nest in trees, often in dense woods, near fresh water.

Because of their beauty, Mandarin Ducks are popular in waterfowl collections. Escaped birds have established populations outside of their native range of eastern Asia. In Europe, there are large Mandarin Duck populations in Britain and Germany; in the United States you can find Mandarin Ducks living in the wild in parts of North Carolina and California.

Mandarin duck
Mandarin Duck by Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Mandarin duck, Hall Drive Pond, Salhouse
Mandarin Duck by Michael Button (CC BY 2.0)

Mandarin DuckMandarin Duck by thecrypt (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow's bird is a great woodpecker that can be found in Europe and north Asia. Can you guess what it will be?

Birdorable White-headed Duck

2013 Bonanza Bird #23: White-headed Duck

July 23rd, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Ducks 3 comments

Our Bonanza rolls on! We're adding new birds each day until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the White-headed Duck.

Birdorable White-headed Duck

White-headed Ducks are diving ducks. This means that they dive under the water for food. They are omnivorous, though they often prefer vegetation to taking prey. They are found in freshwater habitat in North Africa, Spain, and across central Asia.

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White-headed Duck by Ferran Pestaña (CC BY-SA 2.0)

White-headed Ducks are in the "stiff-tailed" duck subfamily. This grouping includes the Ruddy Duck and the extinct New Zealand Stiff-tailed Duck.

White-headed Duck sample products

Tomorrow's new species is considered to be a specialty for birders visiting south Texas. The name of this bird is an onomatopoeia for its loud song.

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Birdorable Common Goldeneye

2013 Bonanza Bird #8: Common Goldeneye

July 8th, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Ducks 2 comments

Our Bonanza hits the water today with our 477th species, the Common Goldeneye.

Birdorable Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneyes are sea ducks with a broad global range. They breed across northern forests in Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, and China. They winter across much of North America and in parts of Europe and Asia south of their breeding range.

Knipa / Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye by Stefan Berndtsson (CC BY 2.0)

Common Goldeneyes nest in tree cavities. They will also use nest boxes. When it is time to fledge, the ducklings leave the cavity nest and fall to the ground. Sometimes duckling goldeneyes may be raised by unrelated adults. This can happen one of two ways. First, female goldeneyes may lay eggs in the nests of other goldeneyes. Another familial mix-up can occur when females with ducklings get into territory fights with other families. As the adult female ducks fight, the ducklings can get mixed up. Once the fight is over and each family swims away, ducklings may end up with a different brood.

common goldeneye

Tomorrow we'll add a colorful species, named for the flower-like color of the male's head, found in India and Southeast Asia.

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Birdorable American Wigeon

2013 Bonanza Bird #4: American Wigeon

July 4th, 2013 in Birdorable Bonanza 2013, Ducks 1 comment

Happy Independence Day to our American readers! Our 2013 Bonanza rolls on -- we're adding new birds each day in July until we reach our 500th Birdorable species! Today's Bonanza bird is the American Wigeon.

Birdorable American Wigeon

Male American Wigeons have beautiful breeding plumage, which includes a shiny thick green eyestripe at the cheeks and a white stripe running from the top of the bill up to the crown of the head. This stripe gives the bird a "bald" appearance. The species was previously known as the Baldpate (pate means head).

American Wigeon
American Wigeon by Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0)

American Wigeons are dabbling ducks, which means that they feed by grazing vegetation at the bottom of shallow waters. They are almost 100% vegetarian.

american wigeon

Our next new Birdorable species is an over-sized kingfisher! Come back tomorrow to find out what it is!

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Birdorable Bufflehead

Did you know? Cavity-nesting ducks

May 22nd, 2012 in Ducks, Did You Know...? 5 comments

With their special water-resistant plumage, ducks are made for water. But did you know that several species of duck actually require trees when it comes to breeding? Some ducks are cavity nesters. We've recently added one of these cute little cavity-nesting ducks to Birdorable. The Bufflehead is one of the smallest species of duck to live in North America. They're just about 14 inches long, and they use cavities excavated by Northern Flicker woodpeckers! They also use nestboxes, as in the photo below.

Bufflehead ducks

Besides the Bufflehead, some other ducks that nest in cavities or nest boxes are: Hooded Merganser; Black-bellied Whistling Duck; Wood Duck; Common Goldeneye; and Common Merganser.