Archive for July, 2014

The mallard family

Phil’s family is growing up rapidly.  I think all four ducklings are drakes now, which means we could have some interesting dominance contests coming up.


Good luck picking out Phil in this photo! He’s in total eclipse, and two of his sons are bigger than he is. Their mother is the big duck in the middle. I am beginning to think she is a wild mallard/Rouen cross, just because of her great size.



This one will be a classic greenhead. I almost guarantee it.


This one is very dark, so it’s difficult to see what color this one will mature into.


I don’t want to count my eggs before they’ve hatched. Especially with this duck, who has had four nest failures this summer.

But she’s currently brooding 11 eggs. Maybe there will be hen ducklings in that clutch!



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Who is the daddy?


My guess is a European polecat that mated with the ferret.

I don’t know about the extra toes bit.

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No really, but it looks like a somewhat larger coyote showed up this week.

wv coyote bigger one

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Ivan on a stroll

Ivan likes to go on little strolls.




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Now juvenile ducks

You really can’t call them ducklings anymore.


I believe they are three drakes and one hen, with the carrot top being the hen.

In one of her father’s notorious rape sessions, he wound up puling up some the skin on the back of her head.

I have not laid my hands on these ducks, so I have not been able to sex them.

But the biggest one getting some green plumage, and he’s already the same size as his dad.

So Phil better watch it!


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This evening I made a pretty gruesome discovery in the tall grass.

A predator of some sort had killed Phil’s sister, who had been sitting on a nest somewhere deep in the meadow grass. She had not been coming to evening feeds.

Her body was lying there, inundated with maggots and stinking to high heaven.

Phil is now the last of clutch.

Of course, I didn’t waste the body. I put her remains near the trail camera to feed whatever carnivore comes that way.

We’re like the Copenhagen Zoo here. Death is not wasted.

It just can’t be.




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Eastern box turtles need to be in the water a bit.



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Last weekend, I set up the game camera, and I dumped out a few cans of sardines and spread the oil out in front of it.

This is what I got when I collected the SD card this evening.

WV coyote 1

An eastern coyote!

If you zoom in you can see it has a wolfy head, and it’s pretty robust. It’s been living high on the hog on dimwitted cottontails this summer.

wv coyote 2

wv coyote 3

close up of wv coyote

Look at how wolfy that head is!

Eastern coyotes have come into this part of the East from Canada, where they have received a bit of Canis lupus lycaon genes, and they are a bit more likely to pack up and hunt deer than their Western counterparts.

If you are wondering how big it is, I do have a photo of Miley in about the same place, which was also taken from the game cam. Miley is bigger than it is.

But it’s not a small coyote.

WV coyote golden retriever comparison

I think the coyote is in about the same spot as Miley, but it could be a bit closer to the camera than she is. Miley is 23 inches at the shoulder and 75ish pounds. Domestic dogs are usually much more heavily built than coyotes are–even those that have a bit of wolf in them.

I was trying to get more photos of raccoons, but I think I’ll settle for a coyote.




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Phil is eclipse plumage.  All mallard ducks undergo a molting period in the summer in which they cannot fly. During this time, male wild mallards lose most of their ostentatious green feathers and look positively homely. Phil is a khaki Campbell cross with wild mallard, and when he goes into eclipse, he turns back to khaki.

It looks bizarrely moth-eaten for what was once fairly dapper duck with a green black head.

Like this:


His concubines don’t seem to care that much:


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Phil is a dinosaur– a type of modern theropod.

NB: Phil does not look like this now,

NB: Phil does not look like this now. He is in eclipse plumage and looks positively manky.

You know what wasn’t a dinosaur?

A plesiosaur:

heinrich harder plesiosaur

Plesiosaurs were more closely related to modern lizards and snakes than to dinosaurs, but we popularly think of them as marine dinosaurs.

Phil is actually a small aquatic dinosaur,who can fly (short distances and not when he’s molting).

Ivan actually fits the bill a bit better:


Somewhere a long the line people never learned that birds are living dinosaurs, and that all these bizarre expeditions to find living dinosaurs in remote parts of the world have been an utter waste of time.

Dinosaurs are all around us.

They crap on our cars.

They appear in our fast food.

And their songs wake us up in the morning.

If you have a dog that is used to hunt birds, you have a dinosaur hound.

And whether those bearded fellows from Louisiana want to admit it or not, they’ve spent their lives trying to understand how to attract and conserve several species of duck-billed dinosaur.

I don’t know why not knowing that birds are actually dinosaurs doesn’t just blow people away.






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