WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – HOLEYLAND WMA, FL
This photograph of wild ducks was taken at the HoleyLand Wildlife Management Area located off of Okeechobee Road (US27) at the boundary of Broward and Palm Beach County in Florida. The HoleyLand Wildlife Management area is great for birdwatchers and photographers as there many canals with much marshland available to view making it a perfect locale for both migratory and indigenous bird species. Camera gear used in this photograph was a Nikon D90.
Duck is the common name for a number of species in the Anatidae family of birds. The ducks are divided between several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered ducks. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water. The overall body plan of ducks is elongated and broad, and the ducks are also relatively long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans. The body shape of diving ducks varies somewhat from this in being more rounded. The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae which are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species. The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, requiring in turn strong wing muscles. Three species of steamer duck are almost flightless, however. Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting; they seek out protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.
Worldwide, ducks have many predators. Ducklings are particularly vulnerable, since their inability to fly makes them easy prey not only for predatory birds but also large fish like pike, crocodilians, and other aquatic hunters, including fish-eating birds such as herons. Ducks’ nests are raided by land-based predators, and brooding females may be caught unaware on the nest by mammals such as foxes, or large birds, such as hawks or eagles.
Adult ducks are fast fliers, but may be caught on the water by large aquatic predators including big fish such as the North American muskie and the European pike. In flight, ducks are safe from all but a few predators such as humans and the Peregrine Falcon, which regularly uses its speed and strength to catch ducks.