Friday, March 2, 2012

Hey Buddy, You're Lookin' Kinda Ruddy

It's getting the be that time of year (No, not Christmas). The Avocets and Gadwalls are getting their rusty heads. The Quail are starting to flirt and the Verdins are already building nests. It was an added bit of excitement this weekend to see some Ruddy Ducks changing into their breeding plumage. In addition to the lovely scab-red coloration in the males, the Ducks develop a beautiful, eye-catching blue on their beaks, which attracts people as well as mates.

I've spent all winter looking at these little cuties from across the water. They've always been in their muted, eclipse plumage, and almost always had their heads tucked away, biding their time until spring. There were some Ruddy Ducks down at Patagonia last weekend, and they were not in their breeding plumage yet, so maybe these four down in Gilbert are a bit early. What will their parents say!?

A fine new coat like his must be kept slim and trim. This male spent a little bit of time preening, making sure he looked quite fabulous before his afternoon date.

When he was good and ready, he tried to get some attention. "Hey guys, over here!"

After he had his stretch and knew that all eyes were on him, the Ruddy Duck started running/flying from one side of the pond to the other. He'd get going full speed, but just when it seemed like he was ready to lift off, he'd splash back down into the water.

Back and forth he went, moving with no particular grace or fluency, but with great energy nonetheless. It was a lot of fun to watch, and I'm sure that if I were a female Ruddy, I'd be very attracted.