Eclipse Plumage

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by Denise D. Greaves (with Sheldon's help!)

Photos © 2012 Denise D. Greaves

A couple of weeks ago while walking around the pond in Penitencia Creek Park, I became concerned because I realized it had been a while since I had seen the Mandarin duck that has been in residence there for the past couple of years. But then while watching the ducks, it suddenly struck me that one of them was not a mallard--the bill was the wrong color! And then when I looked more closely, I realized it was in fact my Mandarin friend. I had been looking for the full color version, forgetting that after breeding season, the males lose their brightly colored feathers and take on what is called eclipse plumage. I guess breeding season is over. On Wednesday, July 18, I took another walk at the park, and he let me get a nice photo of him. Here he is in both eclipse plumage and in full color breeding plumage. Notice how the bill stays basically the same color.

Mandarin Duck, Male, 18 July 2012

Mandarin Duck, Male, 13 November 2010

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