Dabbling Ducks

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Jan 31, 2009 | by Adrian Binns

We have all seen ducks in ponds with their butts in the air. The chances are that they were Mallards, easily identified by their curly-q tails, whom along with Black Ducks, Pintails, American Wigeon, Shoveler and teal are surface feeders. This group of ducks are known as dabbling ducks, feeding on aquatic plants and insects by upending themselves and dabbing the bottom of the shallows with their bills.

Most dabbling ducks breed in a variety of wetlands with a great many favoring the prairie potholes. Dabbling ducks have larger wings and can spring straight up to take to the air as well as able to walk on land.

Unlike most dabbling ducks Northern Shovelers (left) have an elongated spatulate bill with comb like lamellae for straining invertebrates and crustaceans from the water. Though they will upend themselves to feed one can often see them with their head partly submerged as swim along feeding this way.

all photos © adrian binns

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