Jan 22 2014

Turning Blue

Published by at 7:00 am under Phenology,Water and Shore

Ruddy ducks at Conneaut Lake, PA in January (photo by Shawn Collins)

These ruddy ducks that Shawn Collins photographed last weekend look so brown and bland you might wonder why they’re called “ruddy.”

Right now they’re wearing their boring basic (winter) plumage but the bird at left shows a hint that spring is coming.  His bill is turning blue.

During the breeding season male ruddy ducks have sky blue bills, ruddy body feathers and very black heads.  They swim with their tails cocked and their head and neck feathers raised, the better to show off the bubbling display to the ladies … like this:

Male ruddy duck in breeding plumage (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Watch for male ruddy ducks to complete this transformation.

You’ll know it’s spring when they have blue bills.

 

(photo of two ruddy ducks in basic plumage by Shawn Collins.  photo of single ruddy duck in breeding plumage from Wikimedia Commons — click on the image to see the original)

One response so far

One Response to “Turning Blue”

  1. Gail Meisteron 22 Jan 2014 at 10:40 am

    Yeaaaaah spring! Come soon!

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