May 14, 2014
The All About Birds listing for Aix sponsa (wood duck) says in part:
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
Wood Ducks thrive in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and beaver ponds. They are also common along streams of all sizes, from creeks to rivers, and the sheer extent of these make them an important habitat. Wood Ducks seem to fare best when open water alternates with 50–75% vegetative cover that the ducks can hide and forage in.
Some wood duck facts:
- Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females. (click for info about building a nest box)
- The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away. 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 89 m (290 ft) without injury.
- Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
Many (many) more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.
March 4, 2014
May 14, 2013
Mallards are large ducks with hefty bodies, rounded heads, and wide, flat bills. Like many “dabbling ducks” the body is long and the tail rides high out of the water, giving a blunt shape. In flight their wings are broad and set back toward the rear.
Male Mallards have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill. The gray body is sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear. Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills. Both sexes have a white-bordered, blue “speculum” patch in the wing.
Mallards are “dabbling ducks”—they feed in the water by tipping forward and grazing on underwater plants. They almost never dive. They can be very tame ducks especially in city ponds, and often group together with other Mallards and other species of dabbling ducks.
Read on for more including photos and some fun facts:
- The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck).
- Mallard pairs are generally monogamous, but paired males pursue females other than their mates. So-called “extra-pair copulations” are common among birds and in many species are consensual, but male Mallards often force these copulations, with several males chasing a single female and then mating with her.
- Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.
- The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female Mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.
- Mallards, like other ducks, shed all their flight feathers at the end of the breeding season and are flightless for 3–4 weeks. They are secretive during this vulnerable time, and their body feathers molt into a concealing “eclipse” plumage that can make them hard to identify.
- The oldest known Mallard lived to be at least 27 years 7 months old.
October 11, 2012
Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions, 1971 AP file photo
“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”
Yesterday Alex Karras, All-Pro defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions passed away at the age of 77. Karras followed up with a sucessful career as a pro wrestler and as an actor in movies and on TV’s Webster. The New York Times obituary of Alex Karras reads in part:
Karras, at 6 feet 2 inches and 248 pounds — large then but smaller in comparison with today’s N.F.L. linemen — first earned fame as a ferocious tackle for the Lions. He anchored the defensive line for 12 seasons over 13 years, 1958 to 1970.
It was an era when the N.F.L. had abundant talent at the position; Karras’s contemporaries included the Hall of Famers Bob Lilly and Merlin Olsen. But Karras was an especially versatile pass rusher, known around the league for his combination of strength, speed and caginess. His furious approach — Plimpton described it as a “savage, bustling style of attack” — earned him the nickname the Mad Duck.
“Most defensive tackles have one move, they bull head-on,” Doug Van Horn, a New York Giants offensive lineman who had to block Karras, said in 1969. “Not Alex. There is no other tackle like him. He has inside and outside moves, a bull move where he puts his head down and runs over you, or he’ll just stutter-step you like a ballet dancer.”
Karras was named to four Pro Bowls, and he was a member of the N.F.L’s All-Decade team of the 1960s. He was not elected to the Hall of Fame, however, which has sometimes been attributed to the fact that the Lions fielded mostly undistinguished teams during his tenure. In Karras’s only playoff game, the Lions lost to the Dallas Cowboys by the unlikely score of 5-0 in 1970.
Read on at the Times for lots more. Some of my favorite Karras items:
- You can get an overview of his career in the Alex Karras entry on Wikipedia. He was recognized as part of the all-1960s Defense Team by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and won the 1957 Outland Trophy winner as the country’s best collegiate lineman and was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice nine times in his 12-year career.
- The Detroit Lions have an obituary from the Karras family that includes a tribute photo gallery. and some memories posted to Twitter. On the right (at least this morning) is an brief video chat with Karras from 2003 on the Paper Lion reunion.
- Participatory journalist George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback is an incredible book that tells the story of Plimpton’s training with the Detroit Lions. It remains one of the best behind the scenes looks at the NFL. Karras is one of the stars of the book and the pair remained friends. Here’s a video of Plimpton & Karras talking about wresting.
- ESPN has a 2004 interview with Alex Karras about his football career, a $9000 annual salary and his reunion with Lions teammates. He also touches on the dangers of the game and health impacts. Karras was part of a 3500 player lawsuit against the NFL for negative health impacts and ultimately he suffered from dementia and other symptoms. There’s also an interesting interview of Karras from last year that touches on a variety of subjects including his Iowa Hawkeye & NFL career and his work as an actor.
- One of my favorite roles he played was Mongo in Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles. Click that link for some of the slightly off-color but totally hilarious clips.
September 7, 2012
Here’s the latest in the always popular Michigan in Pictures Duckie Series.
Seriously, untouched—-exactly how it grew and the markings are natural…just a little saturation of color and edging but this is really Gods duck.
May 31, 2012
Update (June 1): The Michigan DNR reports that fire crews are making good progress on the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County and that campgrounds, state parks, resorts and other businesses throughout the region and the Upper Peninsula are ready & waiting to deliver Pure Michigan fun!
The massive Duck Lake Fire, which started with a lightning strike last week, has burned over 22,000 acres and destroyed almost 100 structures. Over 200 firefighters from Michigan along with aerial water bombing crews have been fighting the fire, which they estimate to be 55% contained. Absolute Michigan has a bunch of photos, videos and links for the Duck Lake Fire.
You can see more photos there and on the Michigan DNR Facebook.
August 18, 2009
The Exposure.Detroit May Exhibit Opening Party takes place this Friday (May 16) from 7pm – 10pm at the Bean & Leaf Cafe in Royal Oak. The show features five photographers: Paul, Eric, Amy, Nicole and Ross and you can learn more about Exposure.Detroit and the upcoming exhibit from the Exposure.Detroit group on Flickr.
February 22, 2008
I was shooting some duck pictures today when all the sudden something startled all the ducks. Calm to chaos in less than a second. I managed to snap off 4-5 pics before I got a little panicked and got out of the way.
We’ve all heard of the many Inuit names for snow. In case anyone was wondering, ducks are pretty much the same. There’s quite a collection of names for a group of ducks including a paddling of ducks or a raft of ducks (when floating along), a plump or team of ducks (in flight overhead), a brace of ducks (post hunting I believe) or a dopping of ducks (when diving). More ducks on Michigan in Pictures.
None of these seemed quite right but fortunately there’s also a flush of ducks, which I’m going to assume covers exactly this scenario.
January 4, 2006
Speaking of snow (of which Michigan has almost none right now), here’s a stunning photo by John Baird of snowier days on the Huron River.Click the photo, click “ALL SIZES” and look at the largest to get the full effect.
When he’s not taking pictures, John is a furniture designer.
More ducks in the Michigan in Pictures Duckie Project.