Ducks Eating Snails

Check it out: a presidential sandwich--George Washing and Abe Lincoln!

I finally have a day off from all the CivicFest and RNC madness. Civic Fest is supposed to be non partisan and some of it is. The history displays, especially about the Continental Congress are fascinating. And the First Lady Dresses--Mary Todd Lincoln had a dress make of purple velvet and black lace that today's got teenager would love for her senior prom. However, all the gift shops are all Republican, all the time, which surprised me because we have a lot of Democrats in this state and Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are here for their own respective conventions.

I'm assigned by the park service to go to these events and tell anyone that I meet about how to enjoy the Mississippi River while in town. Quite a few people (of all political backgrounds) are here and are birders. I'll find myself engaged in a great birding conversation and then at the end, finally notice they might be wearing a button on a certain political issue that I highly disagree with, but for a few minutes, we can have a common bond over our love of birds.

I will say that if you are opposed to the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, what an opportunity to talk to people involved! A lot of senators and Department of the Interior staff are milling about the Twin Cities and easy to talk to. I'm not allowed to talk about that with them when in ranger uniform, but once I de-ranger, I can chat away.

I can't wait until the ducks get out of their eclipse plumage. Not that I don't love a good brown bird, but they are so much prettier. For non birding, ducks go into an "eclipse plumage" when they are flightless. They molt their feathers and tend to resemble female ducks. Since they can't fly, they need to hide from predators and being brown helps you hide a lot better in vegetation. Above is a female mallard with her brood of young mallards.

Here's a male mallard--note the bill color difference...and the large snail is his about to swallow?

All of the mallards were hunting snails and swirling around each other and on top of each other to get the food.

The younger mallards were not quite as successful as the adults. They didn't come up as often with a snail and half the time they would drop it back into the water.

The adult female had her technique down--check out her bulge right after she swallowed.

This is like one of those awful shots that someone gets of you when you are mid chew--ducks lose some dignity when mid snail swallow.