Egg O My Farm

                                      Mandarin Duck

 

The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan.

Description

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange "sails" at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill. The Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in look to Wood ducklings, and appear very similar to Mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from Mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of Mandarin ducklings (and Wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in Mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.

Mutations

There are various mutations of the Mandarin Duck found in captivity. The most common is the white Mandarin Duck. Although the origin of this mutation is unknown, it is presumed that the constant pairing of related birds and selective breeding led to recessive gene combinations leading to genetic conditions including albinism.

Distribution and habitat

The species was once widespread in eastern Asia, but large-scale exports and the destruction of its forest habitat have reduced populations in eastern Russia and in China to below 1,000 pairs in each country; Japan, however, is thought to still hold some 5,000 pairs.

Specimens frequently escape from collections, and in the 20th century a large feral population was established in Great Britain; more recently small numbers have bred in Ireland. There are now about 7000 in Britain, and other populations on the European continent, the largest in the region of Berlin.

Black Mountain, North Carolina also has a limited population. There is also a free-flying feral population of several hundred mandarins in Sonoma County, California. This population is the result of several mandarin ducks escaping from captivity, then going on to reproduce in the wild.

Behavior and ecology

Unlike other species of ducks, most Mandarin drakes reunite with the hens they mated with along with their offsprings after the eggs have hatched and even share scout duties in watching the ducklings closely. However, even with both parents securing the ducklings, most of them do not survive to adulthood.

Mandarins may form small flocks in winter.

Breeding

In the wild, Mandarin Ducks breed in densely wooded areas near shallow lakes, marshes or ponds. They nest in cavities in trees close to water and during the spring, the females lay their eggs in the tree's cavity after mating. The males take no part in the incubation, simply leaving the female to secure the eggs on her own. However, unlike other species of ducks, the male does not completely abandon the female, leaving only temporarily until the ducklings have hatched. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, their mother flies to the ground and coaxes the ducklings to leap from the nest. After all of the ducklings are out of the tree, they will follow their mother to a nearby body of water where they would usually encounter the father, who will rejoin the family and protect the ducklings with the mother. If the father isn't found then it is likely that he may have deceased during his temporary leave. The Asian populations are migratory, overwintering in lowland eastern China and southern Japan

Food and feeding

Mandarins feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat plants and seeds, especially beechmast. The species will also add snails, insects and small fish to its diet.The diet of Mandarin Ducks changes seasonally, in the fall and winter, they mostly eat acorns and grains. In the spring they mostly eat insects, snails, fish and aquatic plants. In the summer, they eat dew worms, small fish, dew worms, frogs, mollusks, and small snakes. They feed mainly near dawn or dusk, perching in trees or on the ground during the day.

 

                                             My Mandarin

 

 

                                        Wood Ducks

The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colorful North American

Description

The Wood Duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is from 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) in length with a wingspan of between 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in). This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult Mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

The adult male has distinctive multicoloured iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colorful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.

The male's call is a rising whistle, "jeeeeee"; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek," when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.

Behavior

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators. Unlike most other ducks, the Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so

Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbors, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 30 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behavior known as "nest dumping".

After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 88 meters (290 ft) without injury. They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 140 m (150 yd) away from the shoreline. The day after they hatch, the young climb to the nest entrance and jump to the ground. The ducklings can swim and find their own food by this time

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.

Distribution

The birds are year-round residents in parts of its southern range, but the northern populations migrate south for the winter. They overwinter in the southern United States near the Atlantic coast. 75% of the Wood Ducks in the Pacific Flyway are non-migratory. They are also popular, due to their attractive plumage, in waterfowl collections and as such are frequently recorded in Great Britain as escapes—populations have become temporarily established in Surrey in the past but are not considered to be self-sustaining in the fashion of the closely related Mandarin Duck Given its native distribution the species is also a potential natural vagrant to Western Europe and there have been records in areas such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which some observers consider may relate to wild birds; however, given the Wood Duck's popularity in captivity it would be extremely difficult to prove their provenance one way or another There is a small feral population in Dublin.

 

Conservation

The population of the Wood Duck was in serious decline in the late 19th century as a result of severe habitat loss and market hunting both for meat and plumage for the ladies' hat market in Europe. By the beginning of the 20th century Wood Ducks had virtually disappeared from much of their former range. In response to the Migratory Bird Treaty established in 1916 and enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, wood duck populations began to recover slowly. By ending unregulated hunting and taking measures to protect remaining habitat, wood duck populations began to rebound in the 1920s. The development of the artificial nesting box in the 1930s gave an additional boost to Wood Duck production.

Landowners as well as park and refuge managers can encourage Wood Ducks by building Wood Duck nest boxes near lakes, ponds, and streams. Fulda, Minnesota has adopted the Wood Duck as an unofficial mascot, and a large number of nest boxes can be found in the area

Expanding North American Beaver populations throughout the Wood Duck's range have also helped the population rebound as beavers create an ideal forested wetland habitat for Wood Ducks.

The population of the Wood Duck has increased a great deal in the last several years. The increase has been due to the work of many people constructing Wood Duck boxes and conserving vital habitat for the Wood Ducks to breed. During the open waterfowl season, U.S. hunters have only been allowed to take two Wood Ducks per day in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. However, for the 2008–2009 season, the limit was raised to three. The Wood Duck limit remains at two in the Central Flyway and at seven in the Pacific Flyway. It is the second most commonly hunted duck in North America, after the mallard.

 

                                      My Wood Ducks

 

                                        Pintail duck

The Pintail or Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) is a widely occurring duck which breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is strongly migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographical subspecies if the possibly con-specific Eaton's Pintail is considered to be a separate species.

This is a fairly large duck, with a long pointed tail that gives rise to the species' English and scientific names. The Northern Pintail's many names describe the male's two long black tail feathers, which in flight look like a single pin or twig (thus, the nickname sprig). These feathers are very distinctive, accounting for a quarter of the total length of the drake when in full plumage. Fast and graceful fliers, pintails are equipped with long wings, small heads, and long necks that seem built for streamlined aerodynamics. Both sexes have blue gray bills and gray legs and feet. The drake is more striking, having a thin white stripe running from the back of its chocolate-colored head down its neck to its mostly white undercarriage. The drake also has attractive gray, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides. The hen's plumage is more subtle and subdued, with drab brown feathers similar to those of other female dabblers. Hens make a coarse quack and the drakes a flute-like whistle.

The Northern Pintail is a bird of open wetlands which nests on the ground, often some distance from water. It feeds by dabbling for plant food and adds small invertebrates to its diet during the nesting season. It is highly gregarious when not breeding, forming large mixed flocks with other species of duck.

This duck's population is affected by predators, parasites and avian diseases. Human activities, such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, have also had a significant impact on numbers. Nevertheless, this species' huge range and large population mean that it is not threatened globally.

Taxonomy

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Anas acuta The scientific name comes from two Latin words:anas, meaning "duck", and acuta, which comes from the verb acuere, which means "sharpen"; the species term, like the English name, refers to the pointed tail of the male.

Within the large dabbling duck genus Anas, the Northern Pintail's closest relatives are other pintails, such as the Yellow-billed Pintail (A. georgica) and Eaton's Pintail (A. eatoni). The pintails are sometimes separated in the genus Dafila (described by Stephens, 1824), an arrangement supported by morphological, molecular and behavioural data. The famous British ornithologist Sir Peter Scott gave this name to his daughter, the artist Dafila Scott

Eaton's Pintail has two subspecies, A. e. eatoni (the Kerguelen Pintail) of Kerguelen Islands, and A. e. drygalskyi (the Crozet Pintail) of Crozet Islands, and was formerly considered conspecific with the northern hemisphere's Northern Pintail. Sexual dimorphism is much less marked in the southern pintails, with the male's breeding appearance being similar to the female plumage. Unusually for a species with such a large range, Northern Pintail has no geographical subspecies if Eaton's Pintail is treated as a separate species

Description

The Northern Pintail is a fairly large duck with a wingspan of 23.6–28.2 centimetres (9.3–11.1 in). The male is 59–76 centimetres (23–30 in) in length and weighs 450–1360 grammes (1–3 lb), and therefore is considerably larger than the female, which is 51–64 centimetres (20–25 in) long and weighs 454–1135 grammes (1–2.5 lb). The male in breeding plumage has a chocolate-brown head and white breast with a white stripe extending up the side of the neck. Its upperparts and sides are grey, but elongated grey feathers with black central stripes are draped across the back from the shoulder area. The vent area is yellow, contrasting with the black underside of the tail which has the central feathers elongated to as much as 10 centimetres (4 in). The bill is bluish and the legs are blue-grey.

The adult female is mainly scalloped and mottled in light brown with a more uniformly grey-brown head, and its pointed tail is shorter than the male’s; it is still easily identified by its shape, long neck, and long grey bill.

In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake Pintail looks similar to the female, but retains the male upperwing pattern and long grey shoulder feathers. Juvenile birds resemble the female, but are less neatly scalloped and have a duller brown speculum with a narrower trailing edge.

The Pintail walks well on land, and swims buoyantly. It has a very fast flight, with its wings slightly swept-back, rather than straight out from the body like other ducks. In flight, the male shows a black speculum bordered white at the rear and pale rufous at the front, whereas the female's speculum is dark brown bordered with white, narrowly at the front edge but very prominently at the rear, being visible at a distance of 1600 metres (1 mi).

The male's call is a soft proop-proop whistle, similar to that of the Common Teal, whereas the female has a Mallard-like descending quack, and a low croak when flushed

Distribution and habitat

The Northern Pintail has been called the "nomads of the skies." due to their wide-ranging migrations.  This dabbling duck breeds across northern areas of Eurasia south to about Poland and Mongolia,  and in Canada, Alaska and the Midwestern United States. It winters mainly south of its breeding range, reaching almost to the equator in Panama, northern sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South Asia. Small numbers migrate to Pacific islands, particularly Hawaii, where a few hundred birds winter on the main islands in shallow wetlands and flooded agricultural habitats.  Transoceanic journeys also occur: a bird that was caught and ringed in Labrador, Canada, was shot by a hunter in England nine days later,  and Japanese-ringed birds have been recovered from six US states east to Utah and Mississippi  In parts of the range, such as Great Britain and the northwestern United States, the Pintail may be present all year.

The Northern Pintail's breeding habitat is open unwooded wetlands, such as wet grassland, lakesides or tundra. In winter, it will utilise a wider range of open habitats, such as sheltered estuaries, brackish marshes and coastal lagoons. It is highly gregarious outside the breeding season and forms very large mixed flocks with other ducks.  

Behaviour

Breeding

Both sexes reach sexual maturity at one year of age. The male mates with the female by swimming close to her with his head lowered and tail raised, continually whistling. If there is a group of males, they will chase the female in flight until only one drake is left. The female prepares for copulation, which takes place in the water, by lowering her body; the male then bobs his head up and down and mounts the female, taking the feathers on the back of her head in his mouth. After mating, he raises his head and back and whistles.

Breeding takes place between April and June, with the nest being constructed on the ground and hidden amongst vegetation in a dry location, often some distance from water. It is a shallow scrape on the ground lined with plant material and down. The female lays seven to nine cream-coloured eggs at the rate of one per day  the eggs are 55 x 38 millimetres (2.2 x 1.5 in) in size and weigh 45 grammes (1.6 oz), of which 7% is shell.  If predators destroy the first clutch, the female can produce a replacement clutch as late as the end of July.

The hen alone incubates the eggs for 22 to 24 days before they hatch. The precocial downy chicks are then led by the female to the nearest body of water, where they feed on dead insects on the water surface. The chicks fledge in 46 to 47 days after hatching, but stay with the female until she has completed molting.

Around three-quarters of chicks live long enough to fledge, but not more than half of those survive long enough to reproduce.  The maximum recorded age is 27 years and 5 months for a Dutch bird,  but the average life span for wild birds will be much shorter than this, and is likely to be similar to that of other wild ducks, such as the Mallard, at about two years.

Feeding

The Pintail feeds by dabbling and upending in shallow water for plant food mainly in the evening or at night, and therefore spends much of the day resting.  Its long neck enables it to take food items from the bottom of water bodies up to 30 centimeters (1 ft) deep, which are beyond the reach of other dabbling ducks like the Mallard.

The winter diet is mainly plant material including seeds and rhizomes of aquatic plants, but the Pintail sometimes feeds on roots, grain and other seeds in fields, though less frequently than other Anas ducks.   During the nesting season, this bird eats mainly invertebrate animals, including aquatic insects, molluscs and crustaceans

Health

Pintail nests and chicks are vulnerable to predation by mammals, such as foxes and badgers, and birds like gulls, crows and magpies. The adults can take flight to escape terrestrial predators, but nesting females in particular may be surprised by large carnivores such as bobcats.  Large birds of prey, such as Northern Goshawks, will take ducks from the ground, and some falcons, including the Gyrfalcon, have the speed and power to catch flying birds.

It is susceptible to a range of parasites including Cryptosporidium, Giardia, tapeworms, blood parasites and external feather lice,  and is also affected by other avian diseases. It is often the dominant species in major mortality events from avian botulism and avian cholera,  and can also contract avian influenza, the H5N1 strain of which is highly pathogenic and occasionally infects humans.

The Northern Pintail is a popular species for game shooting because of its speed, agility, and excellent eating qualities, and is hunted across its range.  Although one of the world's most numerous ducks,  the combination of hunting with other factors has led to population declines, and local restrictions on hunting have been introduced at times to help conserve numbers.

This species' preferred habitat of shallow water is naturally susceptible to problems such as drought or the encroachment of vegetation, but this duck’s habitat might be increasingly threatened by climate change.  Populations are also affected by the conversion of wetlands and grassland to arable crops, depriving the duck of feeding and nesting areas. Spring planting means that many nests of this early breeding duck are destroyed by farming activities,  and a Canadian study showed that more than half of the surveyed nests were destroyed by agricultural work such as ploughing and harrowing.

Hunting with lead shot, along with the use of lead sinkers in angling, has been identified as a major cause of lead poisoning in waterfowl, which often feed off the bottom of lakes and wetlands where the shot collects.  A Spanish study showed that Northern Pintail and Common Pochard were the species with the highest levels of lead shot ingestion, higher than in northern countries of the western Palearctic flyway, where lead shot has been banned.  In the United States, Canada, and many western European countries, all shot used for waterfowl must now be non-toxic, and therefore may not contain any lead.

Status

The Northern Pintail has a large range, estimated at 28.4 million square kilometres (11 million sq mi), and a population estimated at 5.3–5.4 million individuals.  It is therefore not believed to meet the IUCN Red List threshold criterion of a population decline of more than 30% in ten years or three generations, and is evaluated as Least Concern.

In the Palaearctic, breeding populations are declining in much of the range, including its stronghold in Russia, and are otherwise stable or fluctuating.

Pintails in North America at least have been badly affected by avian diseases, with the breeding population falling from more than 10 million in 1957 to 3.5 million by 1964. Although the species has recovered from that low point, the breeding population in 1999 was 30% below the long-term average, despite years of major efforts focused on restoring the species. In 1997, an estimated 1.5 million water birds, the majority being Northern Pintails, died from avian botulism during two outbreaks in Canada and Utah.

The Northern Pintail is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies,  but it has no special status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants

 

                                      My Pintail ducks

  

                           Black East Indie Ducks

The East Indies is an ornamental breed of domestic duck. Despite the breed's name, it was not developed in Southeast Asia, but rather in the United States in the 19th century. Sometimes called the Black East Indies, it is best known for its striking appearance: very dark, lustrous green plumage and black bills. Females may sometimes develop white feathers as they age. A bantam breed weighing around 1-2 pounds (453-907 grams), East Indies are largely kept by fanciers for exhibition purposes. Being small in size, they are relatively good fliers. Admitted to American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1874, East Indies are popular among breeders. They are generally shyer and quieter than Call Ducks

 Pictures of My Black East Indie Ducks 

 

Pictures of my Black East Indie Crested Ducks 


                              Buff Orpington Ducks

The Buff Orpington Duck is a breed of Domestic duck. It is a dual-purpose breed used for meat and egg production. It is capable of laying up to 220 eggs a year. Originally created by William Cook of Orpington, Kent, UK, from the selection of mis-marked Blue Orpington Ducks; Cook was also the developer of the Orpington Chicken. The Buff Orpington Duck was introduced to the public at the Dairy Show, the Agricultural Hall (q.v.), Islington, London in October 1897. It is considered a threatened breed by the ALBC. This breed was admitted to the British Poultry Standard in 1910 and the American Poultry Associations Standard of Perfection as the 'Buff Duck' in the Medium class in 1914. The Orpington duck is available in 3 colour varieties: Buff, Blond and Brown. The Buff Orpington is an unstable colour due to a blue dilution gene which means that from the offspring, all 3 colour variations will appear

 

   Pictures of My Buff Orpington Ducks