A week or so ago, Esau and I walked along the Manhattan shore of the Hudson River between 100th Street and 116th Street. Flotsam and jetsam littered the rocks.
I expect to see a mallard pair or two when I walk by the river. And so I did. The female below nibbled away on the moss that covered the rocks down at the water’s edge.
She’d nibble and nibble, then lift her head to swallow.
The male floated nearby as did a huge plank.
I did not expect to see the gorgeous pair of black ducks that were hanging out not too far away.
I didn’t know what they were until I got home and looked them up. I just knew they were stunning with their subtle plumage and elegant postures.
The male was nibbling on moss.
The female nibbled on herself.
More accurately, she preened and seemed to be dealing with bird lice or another of the many small parasites that beset wild birds. While some bird lice are generalists that can feast on any part of the bird’s body, others species specialize in particular areas of the bird. A bird may be infested with wing lice, head lice, body lice, and so on, not to mention mites and other creatures. Without hands, a nibble with your bill is your best bet for scratching the itch.
I’m starting to feel a little itchy myself.
Whew, finished preening.
And what a beauty.
Next up: Divers on the Hudson looks at a pair of hyper-active, punked-out red-breasted mergansers.
For more on dabbling ducks in New York:
Sex and the City Bird
Fresh Ducklings and Growing Goslings in Morningside Park
NYC Mallards Court on Halloween