This dreary photo was taken on a rainy night. I’m using it to answer a few questions visitors often ask about the ducks. I’m not an expert on duck behavior. My knowledge comes from what I observe at the millpond and read online. If you know more than me, please click post headlines and add comments to correct me. Write comments about your own observations of the millpond ducks, too.
The three ducks in the foreground (above) and the white duck in the background comprise what I’ve named “The Dam Tribe” because they are usually found near the millpond dam. That’s where most park visitors congregate and toss food to the ducks. The Dam Tribe is smart! Because they are all large, the other ducks give them first crack at the food.
SweetPea, a celebrity on this blog, is the only white duck on the pond with a dark bill. Moose Tracks (right) is easy to spot. He’s the largest, flashiest black and white duck. SweetPea and Moose Tracks probably have Ancona or Magpie Duck genes. Those are domestic duck breeds created for meat and egg production. Moose Tracks has speckled feet and legs, an Ancona trait. SweetPea has faint speckles on hers, too, but her head’s profile is almost goose like so her lineage is unknown. Since they are “farm ducks” neither should be at the pond, but they are park visitor favorites. Someone discarded them at the pond years ago (2005 or 2006, probably). Each year, duck owners toss their unwanted “pets” into the millpond. In 2011, at least eight ducks have been dumped. Only four have survived the transition to life with wild ducks.
The other two ducks in this tribe are probably the sons of Moose Tracks and a wild female Mallard. In the upper right background (top photo), a true Mallard drake shows typical markings. Note how different the larger Dam Tribe drakes look. Their heads look like Mallard drakes, but their bodies and wings lack the typical gray colors. “Buster” (left) is the identical twin brother of “Gramps” who was killed by a turtle bite this summer. “Duke” (Just named!) looks like Buster but has no white neckband (right). He’s the prime suitor for SweetPea these days. She rules the group most of the time although it doesn’t appear the case in this photo.