Monday, August 15, 2011

Where have all the male Mallards gone?

Are you wondering where all the male Mallard ducks have gone? Read on......
"In mid-summer after breeding, the male Mallard has a complete molt, producing a dull-colored basic plumage, aptly termed the eclipse plumage. Male Mallards in eclipse plumage look remarkably like females, but their bills are light olive green, while females' are orange marked with black. Because flight feathers are also molted at this time, the birds become temporarily flightless and tend to be very secretive. The male Mallard's basic plumage is kept only a few weeks; it is soon lost in a molt of the body feathers which produces the brightly colored head and other distinctive features of the breeding plumage. The timing of this molt is related to courtship in Mallards, which begins in the fall." ~ The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Male Mallard in eclipse plumage

Female Mallard

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Go gentle into that good night....

The majority of the orphan raccoons have been released from the Refuge, so it is really quiet around here. All raccoons here are vaccinated against rabies and then they go through what is called a "soft release."
Their pen is kept open so they can come and go as they please. Bottle feeding has been stopped and human contact is limited. Food is put out at night but that's it. They gradually disappear into the wild and become wild raccoons.
But, it's been a very hot summer here in Virginia, so we still get visits on occasion. Sometimes we find them napping on top of their pens. Sometimes they climb on Evelyn's deck and peek into her sunroom!
We miss these awesome little coonies, but we know they will love being wild and free! Go gentle into that good night........