Female-duck mystery


It is a mystery to me why female ducks sit atop pilings in the early morning at the beginning of the breeding season. They don’t do this at other times. I have been watching female mallards do this for a number of weeks this year. But, the behaviour is not confined to mallards. Other years I have seen mergansers and goldeneyes also perch atop pilings, all of them females. 

These females do not seem to be seeking a mate. Most have already paired off. Indeed, the mate is often on the water below, and after a while on the piling, she flies down and joins him. 

Has this behaviour evolved? There have only been pilings on this lake for less than a century and a half. If, as is likely, the behaviour is ancient, what previous structure has been supplanted by the convenience of wooden pilings? (Ducks cannot perch on the conically topped metal pilings.)

Who knows the purpose of this behaviour?

Now is the brief season of female mallards perching atop pilings.


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6 Responses to Female-duck mystery

  1. birthe says:

    What a fascinating observation.
    I like the way the light has caught her front, so perhaps she’s just sunning herself while she still has time before she has to look after ducklings?

  2. nancy rosenblum says:

    wonderful thank you. I love her smile.

  3. Carlo says:

    Your observation of seasonal timing is so interesting!
    Here is another shot of a Mallard duck sat on a flat top of a columnar feature. Interestingly, it too was taken in March.

  4. Sarah says:

    Alistair – women need a break! After choosing her guy, committing and mating, she needs a little time to herself!

  5. Jamie Bastedo says:

    I first thought it might be to ward off multiple advances of her mate. Or perhaps unequivocally declaring her ‘taken’ status to other males?

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