Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Ducks Head South

In early fall, you'll see male ducks - like these Mallards - looking very different from when they flew north last spring. The beautiful drakes seem to be gone. But the males are here - sort of "under cover." In mid-summer, they molted into nondescript, dull plumage known as eclipse plumage. But the eclipse is waning. By November, most of the drakes' vivid colors will return, just in time for the flash of the courtship season.

Want to receive stunning photos each week of the birds we'll feature in the week ahead? Sign up for Weekly Preview!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Ducks Head South

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Mallards and American Wigeons calling]
 You see them flying south, chevrons of ducks making the great autumnal passage, like these Mallards and American Wigeons we’re hearing.  
[Mallards and American Wigeons calling]
But now in early fall, when they come to rest, you’ll see the male ducks looking very different from when they flew north last spring.
 Then the drakes were dressed in their finest colors, and already paired with their mates of the season. Now there seem to be no fancy feathered males at all. But the males are here - sort of “under cover.”
In mid-summer, the drakes shed their old feathers. They molted into nondescript, dull plumage known as eclipse plumage. At the same time – in the safety of large, deep lakes in the north country – the males molted their wing-feathers all at once, leaving them flightless for a month or more while they grew new ones.
[Mallards and American Wigeons calling]
 But the eclipse is waning. By November, most of the drakes’ glossy greens and other vivid colors will return, just in time for the flash of the courtship season.
[Loud, excited quacking of Mallards or other ducks]
Would you like to receive stunning photos each week of the birds we’ll feature in the week ahead? If so, come to birdnote.org and sign up on the link entitled “Weekly Preview.” For BirdNote, I’m Frank Corrado.
###

Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Mallard and American Wigeon calls recorded by A.A. Allen.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2008 Tune In to Nature.org

ID# duck-03-2008-10-06-KPLU

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Related field notes:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More