Saturday, March 10, 2012

Do not feed the ducks! Ring-necked Ducks

A flock of Ring-necked Ducks, Riparian Preserve at water Ranch, Gilbert, AZ, 12/24/11.
In yesterday's post, I extolled about the fantastic bird habitat at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch and promised that in the next several weekends of posts I will feature bird photos from this Desert Oasis.  Before the actual entrance into the Preserve, there is a medium sized Lake that one must cross to reach the entrance. As we crossed this floating bridge over the lake, there was a good-sized flock of Ring-necked Ducks (Above) mixed in with Northern Pintails, Mallards, and American Coots congregating near the bridge. My first thought was,
"How considerate of these ducks to give us close up photo ops." I soon realized why the these birds were eager to be so close to people. They were looking for handouts from people throwing in bread for them to eat. Not more than 10 feet away was clearly marked sign, "Do not feed the wildlife." Yet there was a Dad telling his kids it was okay because they were feeding them "healthy whole wheat bread."  I know I should have said something to them about bread (of any kind) is not good for ducks, but I remained silent and decided to  mind my own business.  I felt guilty later that I didn't use my knowledge to enlighten others but to avoid confrontation I didn't say anything. I could preach here about why it is not healthy for wildlife to eat bread  (and other food for human consumption), but instead below is a link to an article form that explains the dangers of bread to ducks and other wildlife. It is well written and puts the dangerous act of feeding wildlife in clear concise terms.
A Ring-necked Duck,  Riparian Preserve at water Ranch, Gilbert, AZ, 12/26/11.
Ring-necked Ducks were far the majority in this lake. So I was abe to get a few good pictures of them. I don't see this species of duck up in Northern Illinois except during the Fall and Spring migrations. They are pretty much a northern duck found mostly throughout Canada, but also in the Northern Midwestern and Northeastern states as well as in the cooler mountain lakes of the Rockies. In winter they will settle in most of the southern half of the U.S. and into Mexico.  I've always thought these guys should be called "Ring-billed Ducks" because of their very prominent ring around the base of their bill and near the tip. But they possess a feint lighter ring around their lower neck, but it not always obvious.
Tomorrow I will feature photos of the Northern Pintail, which were plentiful at the Riparian Preserve.

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