Bird of the Week: Mallard

Mallard

Mallard. Photo by Pete Arnold.

The colorful drake is the most recognizable, widely distributed, abundant and hunted duck in North America. However, it’s the brown hen that quacks. After a month of waiting for new wing feathers to grow in, it is fall and time to pair up. Many flocks, like those in Cheyenne city parks, do not migrate. All domestic ducks, except the Muscovy, are descendants of wild mallards. Domestication began 800 (Europe) and 2000 (southeast Asia) years ago. Mallards often hybridize with domestics and other wild ducks.

Published Oct. 8, 2008, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Text by Barb Gorges, photo by Pete Arnold.

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Bird of the Week: Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane. Photo by Pete Arnold.

They sound like a flock of odd geese passing overhead, but if you’ve ever been to their spring migratory stop-over in central Nebraska, you’ll recognize the sound of cranes, a sound that’s been made for over 10 million years. Those migrating over eastern Wyoming probably nested in Siberia and Alaska, laying their two eggs on nests floating in shallow water. Only one chick usually survives to travel with its parents this fall. Often sandhills acquire the color of their local soil on their gray feathers.

Published Oct. 1, 2008, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Text by Barb Gorges, photo by Pete Arnold.