Species of the Month
Description ADULT MALE Has shiny green-blue crown and mane, adorned with white lines. Chin and throat are white, extending onto face as white lines. Breast is maroon, flanks are buff, and back is greenish; these three areas are separated by white lines. Note red eye and red at base of bill. ADULT FEMALE Mainly brownish, darkest on back and head. Breast and flanks are marked with fine pale streaklike spots. Note the white spectacle around the eye and white on throat and margin of gray bill. JUVENILE Resembles adult female, but plumage is duller and patterns less striking.
Habitat Associated with forested areas, typically flooded valleys, well-wooded swamps and the like; requires areas that are flooded during the breeding season. Overhunting and habitat destruction brought virtual extinction by end of 19th century (sadly, a familiar story). However, hunting restrictions and conservation measures have allowed population to recover to roughly 1,000,000 birds.
Range Southwest, Southeast, Eastern Canada, New England, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic
Discussion Attractive dabbling duck. Males are bizarrely colorful and instantly recognizable; even the duller females are well-marked. Flies on rapid wingbeats and is surprisingly maneuverable through forested terrain. Gregarious outside breeding season, but seldom seen in sizeable flocks. Nests in tree holes and responds well to introduction of artificial nest boxes; often perches on branches. Feeds on acorns, fruits, and invertebrates. Sexes are dissimilar.
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