Well, the green shows up well on my phone. Guess I'll have to try to get a different picture of my fine fellow this week to show you better. He is well into his adult molt now and in about 2 weeks will not be recognizablefrom this bird. His chest is a deep dark burgundy already, and there are a few of the darker colored feathers coming in on his back as well. It's odd that his first set of feathers was so light and now his adult feathers are filling in so dark. Then again this one has been nothing but odd.
I've truly enjoyed watching them mature and now that I know they are all drakes I have begun the elimination process as to which birds are in the running to stay, and which three will be making a long trip to Alabama. The drake pictured, while beautiful - is a trip maker. The lightly marked juvenile feathers are an issue for me. (See the other in the background, much darker)
It's remarkable how alike they are and yet how different. I can tell them apart by their feathering to some extent, and the sounds they make are truly different as well. Unique and the alike at the same time...well except the one who thinks it's a girl.
While I'd like to breed to the standard of perfection, that standard doesn't specify the darkness of the bird. I prefer the darkest coloration available to help them hide and blend in to their surroundings. They will be on a large pond and the darker they are the fewer predators will take notice. (See the one with almost no brown in the middle? His lighter coloration makes him stand out.)
OK, yes I chopped the ducks head off - metaphorically, but better this way, than physically - no? ;-)
I just love the patterning on these guys. Look at that purple/blue wing speculum. Beautiful.
I'm excited to be adding to the flock next weekend and I can't wait to show you pictures of the new little ones. But meanwhile the drakes are starting to change so rapidly I'm afraid I won't be able to pick out the one I've decided to keep for breeding when I introduce more into the flock.
SO. As a solution I've decided to mark the one that I feel will suit my needs best. Of course once they have completed their adult feathering this could change, but as long as there is nothing glaringly wrong with him as far as breeding standard and coloration goes I am going to be keeping the one that tries to rasp or honk, but can't seem to make a sound. He's by far the best bet for a pet in my neighborhood. Nearly silent and non-flying are great attributes to have around here!
Once I started looking around at ways to mark my birds I realized that there were not a lot of easy and painless options out there. So, I found these...
They are almost like keyrings in that they are looped over themselves, but they are fairly flexible plastic and should be easy to get on or off the bird(s). I want to mark the one that I am keeping now, but when I release them on the pond in Alabama I don't want it mistaken that they are just some random birds. So the ones we take up there will be marked before they are let out of their enclosure. By marking their legs any person (poacher, trespasser) will know that the birds are not wild game. Not that it would stop everyone but the area we are in up there? It's got a pretty good honor system going. If a neighbor was to see someone with my duck it would be questioned and reported. Livestock is super important to life up there and the vast majority of people farm for their way of living/feeding their families. I realize that if the birds do manage to settle into a nice lifestyle and keep away form the predators that they might some day have ducklings and I would have no way to mark them and that's OK. I figure that if they are able to produce a new flock then that's awesome and more than I ever expected. I'm just hoping that they live the first year or two out without any major incidence. It's be so nice to see the family group all together up there when we go fishing and such. <3
Off to fill up the waterers...again.
See you soon!