WATERFOWL
The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. It is 41–49 cm long with a 65–75 cm wingspan.

The adult male is a striking and unmistakable bird. It has a red bill, large white crescent above the eye and reddish face and "whiskers". The breast is purple with two vertical white bars, and the flanks ruddy, with two orange "sails" at the back. The female is similar to female Wood Duck, with a white eye-ring and stripe running back from the eye, but is paler below, has a small white flank stripe, and a pale tip to its bill. The Mandarin ducklings are almost identical in look to Wood ducklings, and appear very similar to Mallard ducklings. The ducklings can be distinguished from Mallard ducklings because the eye-stripe of Mandarin ducklings (and Wood ducklings) stops at the eye, while in Mallard ducklings it reaches all the way to the bill.

There are various mutations of the Mandarin Duck found in captivity. The most common is the white Mandarin Duck. Although the origin of this mutation is unknown, it is presumed that the constant pairing of related birds and selective breeding led to recessive gene combinations leading to genetic conditions including albinism.

Lots more information at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_Duck
Pictures and decriptions courtesy of Wikipedia
The Redhead (Aythya americana) is a medium-sized diving duck, 37 cm long with an 84 cm wingspan.

The adult male has a blue bill, a red head and neck, a black breast, yellow eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a darker bluish bill with a black tip.

The breeding habitat is marshes and prairie potholes in western North America. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations. Females regularly lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. Redheads usually take new mates each year, starting to pair in late winter.

Following the breeding season, males go through a molt which leaves them flightless for almost a month. Before this happens, they leave their mates and move to large bodies of water, usually flying further north.

They overwinter in the southern and north-eastern United States, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.

For more information go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redhead_(duck)

Male Wood Duck
Female Wood Duck
The Wood Duck or Carolina Duck (Aix sponsa) is a species of duck found in North America. It is one of the most colourful of North American waterfowl.

The Wood Duck is a medium-sized perching duck. A typical adult is from 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) in length with a wingspan of between 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in). This is about three-quarters of the length of an adult Mallard. It shares its genus with the Asian Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata).

The adult male has distinctive multicoloured iridescent plumage and red eyes,with a distinctive white flare down the neck. The female, less colourful, has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.

The male's call is a rising whistle, "jeeeeee"; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek," when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.

Their breeding habitat is wooded swamps, shallow lakes, marshes or ponds, and creeks in eastern North America, the west coast of the United States and western Mexico. They usually nest in cavities in trees close to water, although they will take advantage of nesting boxes in wetland locations if available. Females line their nests with feathers and other soft materials, and the elevation provides some protection from predators. Unlike most other ducks, the Wood Duck has sharp claws for perching in trees and can, in southern regions, produce two broods in a single season—the only North American duck that can do so.

Females typically lay between 7 and 15 white-tan eggs that incubate for an average of 30 days. However, if nesting boxes are placed too close together, females may lay eggs in the nests of their neighbours, which may lead to nests which may contain as many as 30 eggs and unsuccessful incubation, a behaviour known as "nest dumping".

After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 88 metres (290 ft) without injury. They prefer nesting over water so the young have a soft landing, but will nest up to 140 m (150 yd) away from the shoreline. The day after they hatch, the young climb to the nest entrance and jump to the ground. The ducklings can swim and find their own food by this time.

These birds feed by dabbling or walking on land. They mainly eat berries, acorns, and seeds, but also insects, making them omnivores.

More information on conservation and additional pictures at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_Duck

The Pintail or Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) is a widely occurring duck which breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is strongly migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator. Unusually for a bird with such a large range, it has no geographical subspecies if the possibly con-specific Eaton's Pintail is considered to be a separate species.

This is a fairly large duck, with a long pointed tail that gives rise to the species' English and scientific names. The Northern Pintail's many names describe the male's two long black tail feathers, which in flight look like a single pin or twig (thus, the nickname sprig). These feathers are very distinctive, accounting for a quarter of the total length of the drake when in full plumage. Fast and graceful fliers, pintails are equipped with long wings, small heads, and long necks that seem built for streamlined aerodynamics. Both sexes have blue gray bills and gray legs and feet. The drake is more striking, having a thin white stripe running from the back of its chocolate-colored head down its neck to its mostly white undercarriage. The drake also has attractive gray, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides. The hen's plumage is more subtle and subdued, with drab brown feathers similar to those of other female dabblers. Hens make a coarse quack and the drakes a flute-like whistle.

The Northern Pintail is a bird of open wetlands which nests on the ground, often some distance from water. It feeds by dabbling for plant food and adds small invertebrates to its diet during the nesting season. It is highly gregarious when not breeding, forming large mixed flocks with other species of duck.

This duck's population is affected by predators, parasites and avian diseases. Human activities, such as agriculture, hunting and fishing, have also had a significant impact on numbers. Nevertheless, this species' huge range and large population mean that it is not threatened globally.

For more information go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pintail_duck
The Call Duckis a bantam breed of domesticated duck raised primarily for decoration or as pets. Call ducks look similar to Mallards, but are smaller in size.

The Call Duck is an energetic and active duck. It is small, weighing around 0.68 kg (1.5 lb) with a plump bowl-shaped body; a wide, rounded head; tiny, broad bill and short legs. It is vocal with a high pitched call. The female Calls are more vocal then the males. The Call Duck comes in a variety of standard colours including White, Gray, Blue, Buff, Pastel, Khaki, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Snowy, Spot and Black & White Magpie. Nonstandard colours include Blue Fawn, Nutmeg, Self Black, Cinnamon and Crested. It produces 25–75 eggs a year.

The first recorded mentions of the breed are from the Netherlands where it was used as a decoy and known as a Coy or Decoy Duck. The high-pitched distinctive call was used to lure other ducks into funnel traps. Later, hunters would tether Call Ducks to draw other species within range of the guns. It is believed to have originally come from the Far East, although no records of its introduction to the Netherlands exist. Other bantam breeds are known to have been imported to the Netherlands in the 17th century and Van Gink, writing in The Feathered World in 1932, supposes "There is a possibility that importations were made by Dutch captains from Japan ... especially as the Call Duck's type is very different from the ordinary European type of duck to sport from it, and since they breed so true they must be a very old-established breed."

It was introduced to British Isles by the 1850s. By 1865, it was one of the first six waterfowl breeds to be standardized there, but by the middle of the 20th century they were rare. Determined efforts by a few breeders re-popularized the breed and today they are common. In the United States, the Gray and White varieties were listed in the first Standard of Perfection in 1874 and in 1935, the use of Call Ducks in Duck Hunting was permanently banned in every state as it resulted in over-harvest by hunters and was not in line with the conservation efforts that were then being realized. They are popular exhibition birds and win more duck championships in shows in North America than any other breed.

For more information go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Duck


Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. There are six to seven species of swan in the genus Cygnus; in addition there is another species known as the Coscoroba Swan, although this species is no longer considered related to the true swans. Swans usually mate for life, though 'divorce' does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure. The number of eggs in each clutch ranges from three to eight.

The word swan is derived from Old English swan, akin to the German Schwan and Dutch zwaan and Swedish svan, in turn derived from Indo-European root *swen (to sound, to sing).[1] Young swans are known as swanlings or as cygnets, from Greek κύκνος, kýknos and from the Latin word cygnus ("swan") and the Old French suffix -et ("little"). An adult male is a cob, from Middle English cobbe (leader of a group); an adult female is a pen.

The swans are the largest members of the duck family Anatidae, and are among the largest flying birds. The largest species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach length of over 1.5 m (60 inches) and weigh over 15 kg (33 pounds). Their wingspans can be almost 3 m (10 ft). Compared to the closely related geese they are much larger in size and have proportionally larger feet and necks. They also have a patch of unfeathered skin between the eyes and bill in adults. The sexes are alike in plumage, but males are generally bigger and heavier than females.

The Northern Hemisphere species of swan have pure white plumage but the Southern Hemisphere species are mixed black and white. The Australian Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) is completely black except for the white flight feathers on its wings; the chicks of black swans are light grey in colour, and the South American Black-necked Swan has a black neck.

The legs of swans are normally a dark blackish grey colour, except for the two South American species, which have pink legs. Bill colour varies: the four subarctic species have black bills with varying amounts of yellow, and all the others are patterned red and black. Although most birds generally do not have teeth, swans are known to be an exception to this, having small jagged 'teeth' as part of their beaks used for catching and eating fish. The Mute Swan and Black-necked Swan have a lump at the base of the bill on the upper mandible.

For more information go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan