Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sex Discrimination Among Ducks?

(Picture Left: Binky making his way with the mallards at Turtle Pond.)

Well, as said the other day, Binky is well on his way to becoming a duck.

Last night, when walking with my dogs near the open rock patches at the east side of Turtle Pond, I was surprised to find seemingly all the ducks of the pond scattered around the rocks -- and right in the middle of the bunch was Binky!

This was both good news and bad news.

The good news was that Binky was not alone and had company. Canada geese are flock birds who need to be in a family, group or pair. They generally will not do well as "loners."

The bad news is this particular rock area is open to the public and that could leave Binky, who, after all, cannot fly vulnerable to dogs or human thugs.

I didn't worry about this when Binky had the protection of his family on the rocks at night. But, I don't feel so confident about a flock of mallards being able to "protect" Binky should something go wrong. The ducks would simply scurry in the water quickly or be able to fly away if necessary. Generally too, ducks are more wary of humans than Canada geese. I hope Binky picks up that caution from the ducks.

Marina, the mama duck with three mostly grown ducklings seems to be the "alpha" bird in this group of all female ducks and the one Canada goose. (Marina was the duck who seemingly summoned the entire goose family over the weekend to return to the rocks as the coast was clear). She squawks orders to the rest of the flock and is the first one to eat.

Even among ducks, there is a hierarchy with presumably, the oldest "mama" at the top of the heap.

A friend told me recently, that after laying eggs, female mallards will chase the drakes away.

That seems to be true as I have never seen a mama duck with a mate, so to speak. They are very different from Canada geese in that way. The geese mate for life and both parents play critical roles in raising the young. But, it seems all the female ducks chase the males away during the "child rearing" season. There are very few drakes to be seen these days either at Turtle Pond or Harlem Meer.

Presumably, the drakes will be allowed to return during the fall and winter. ;)

I don't know if Binky is a boy or girl, but if a male, he seems to have a "harem" to hang out with and enjoy -- even if they are not his particular species.

And at least for their part, the female ducks are not chasing the goose away. -- Perhaps Binky really is a girl. -- PCA


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