Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ducks paddling the water features

Water features are relaxing and soothing, a treasured place to enjoy peace. Small wetlands can attract wild waterfowl and be an asset to the local wildlife. Your domestic ducks can contribute to the attraction and be beautiful, too.

Mandarin ducks such as these and Wood ducks such as the one below, from Purely Poultry, look as if someone painted them, with distinct brightly colored green, red, brown and white markings. The drakes, at any rate. The hens, like so many waterfowl, have camouflage plumage that is less striking. They happily nest in boxes and will raise a clutch of youngsters for you.

Wood ducks are native to North America, one of the few duck breeds that nest in trees. That first step out of the nest can be a big one for ducklings – jumps as long as 290 feet, without injury, have been documented. They naturally produce two broods in a year. You may attract some wild ones to your pond, or you can acquire domestically raised birds. Trimming the primary flight feathers on one wing will keep them from flying away, although domestic birds may willingly stay in the comfortable surroundings you provide.

Mandarin Ducks are Asian cousins to Wood Ducks. While they are not native to North America, they do well here. Their stunning plumage makes them popular in private collections. While their numbers in China are declining, they are doing well in domestic flocks. Pairs bond for life, making them a symbol of marital love and fidelity, often used to bless Chinese weddings.

Not everyone finds the caruncles of Muscovy ducks attractive, but they are a conversation point. These are Harvey Ussery's. The fleshy growths on their heads are warty and strange. These large ducks, native to the American continents, can be friendly companions. The hens are good mothers and naturally lay quite a few eggs. Crested ducks have feathered knobs on their heads, giving them an eye-catching appearance. Runner ducks are often described as ‘wine bottles with legs.’ With supportive diet, they lay as many eggs as chickens, and come in many colors.

Bantam ducks, weighing less than two pounds, may suit you. Call ducks were originally bred to attract wild ducks by calling them down to the hunter’s blind. They retain their inclination to call, and are vocal and sociable. These belong to Kristine Tanzillo. Ten color varieties of Call Ducks are recognized by the American Bantam Association, but many others are raised by fanciers. East Indies ducks glimmer with greenish iridescence on their black plumage.

 Ducks can be delicately camouflaged or stand out in your landscaping. Some are friendly and make warm companions. What a treat to look out and see such charming living artworks!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

We have some South African shelducks at the zoo where I work that I think are absolutely beautiful in their simple way.