Wildlife photography typically takes the aim of capturing something inaccessible, something rare, or a vision in crisp detail that might otherwise not sit still long enough to examine. We were impressed this week with the unique vision presented by lionsnaturephotography, where a common and recognizable visitor of wetlands – a mallard duck – is made dynamic by back-lighting and motion.
Looking at our photograph, I wonder if many would know by the silhouette what type of duck we are seeing. There is something so recognizable about its form that it feels as though the shape of this bird is in our blood. It isn’t surprising that bones of the Mallard have been found in the ancient food remains of humans in Europe. Much of its reputation as the archetypal duck comes from the fact that it can be found across the continent and that it is the ancestor of most domestic duck breeds.
The Mallard, while commonly found in both fresh and saltwater wetlands, is not as common or average as you might think. Beyond the loud quack-quacking call, the startling emerald head and white collar of the male, or the shock of blue seen on the bird’s speculum feathers, what makes this bird unique? Unlike other ducks it can breed with other types of ducks and can also inbreed with its closest relatives- creating new hybrid ducks that are fertile. The malleability of the Mallard’s genes is associated with the fact that this bird evolved very quickly, not so long ago in earth time. This was almost 11,000 years ago in the age of great glaciers and when many large animals died out and humans migrated outward to every continent. It is a bird of our time.
The Mallard is a migratory waterfowl that can be found in its native habitat across our continent, Europe, Asia and North Africa. Throughout its long travels between Canada and Central America for the winter, it needs clean and safe stop-overs where it can forage, sleep and bathe itself. The happy moment where we see our photographed duck splashing about was captured at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta which represents one of these stop-overs.
We thank our photographer for submitting this exciting moment where the common Mallard becomes so much more. If you have thoughtful, artistic, or interesting images that capture wetlands in BC and their resident flora & fauna please do the same- you might get featured in one of our upcoming blog entries! See the BC Wetlands Photo Group on Flickr.