Ducks on Parade

This is the time of year that huge rafts of ducks gather on Minnesota lakes and rivers to feast on the year-end crop of weeds and seeds.  Ring-necked Ducks apparently really like Minnesota wild rice and will form huge flocks of thousands to hundreds of thousands of birds on shallow lakes, beaver ponds, cattail marshes, etc.  I usually find a large flock of Ring-necked Ducks and Common Goldeneye on one of the St. Paul reservoirs in Vadnais Heights, and today was no exception.

The ducks always manage to be as far from the road as possible, but the backdrop of fall color was nice.

The ducks always manage to be as far from the road as possible, which is nice for landscapes, but not duck photos.

I managed to hike along the lake shore behind a screen of trees to get closer to the flock of Ring-necked Ducks and was rewarded with some closer shots, even though I had to shoot through leaves and branches.

This is just a small part of a long line of Ring-necked Ducks, mostly males, with a few scattered females here and there.

This is just a small part of a long line of Ring-necked Ducks, mostly males, with a few scattered females here and there.

This would probably be an accurate reflection of the ratio of males to females in this large group.

This would probably be an accurate reflection of the ratio of males to females in this large group.

And finally, we see why these are called Ring-necked Ducks.  There is a chesnut-colored ring of feathers at the base of the neck, rarely seen.

And finally, we see why these are called Ring-necked Ducks. There is a chesnut-colored ring of feathers at the base of the neck, rarely seen.

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Nervous Nellies take off for less crowded parts of the lake.

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Common Goldeneye seem to be really skittish in the fall, and take off before I am even within telephoto range.  Oh well, the fall color is nice.

6 thoughts on “Ducks on Parade

    • It sure is. I noticed that several species (of ducks) have that intensely golden eye color. It’s particularly striking against their dark head feathers.

  1. Beautiful shots, Sue, of a duck that I rarely see closely. There are a little group of Ring-necked ducks in a small pond in a nearby suburban and they rarely venture close to the shore. I am happy that you got a shot that showed the “ring”–the name has seemed unusual to me, given that the bill was a more noticeable characteristic. By the way, those fall colors are gorgeous.

    • Thanks, Mike. Yes, I was very fortunate in my creeping along the shore not to alarm the flock. The screen of bushes was just perfect to shield my presence, but thin enough in places to get an unobstructed view.

  2. A lovely collection of images, especially against that colourful foliage. I saw some ducks near the Statue of Liberty island in New York last week. I couldn’t get close enough to see them clearly but I wonder if they were one of these breeds? Do they mind a bit of salt in their water?

    • Thanks, Rachael, the ducks you saw were probably the kind that can handle both fresh and salt water. Ring-necked ducks are strictly fresh water inhabitants, but there are large flocks of scaup and surf scoters that hang around in coastal bays and harbors. Ducks are so hard to ID because they rarely come close to shore.

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