Black Ducks Wear Dog Masks Too!

The Mississippi River has been flooding a bit in downtown St. Paul, MN.  It's an exciting time for us park rangers at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.  I've been out taking photos for the park's Facebook Page of the progessing river levels and can't help but get in some spring birding when I'm out and about.  See the tangle of trees on the right behind the rail?  There were a pair of song sparrows lurking in there.

There was no singing on territory but anxious chips from the pair.  I think they were looking for food and I wondered if they had nested in this spot last year when the river was lower.  Now they arrived and were perplexed at the dramatic change in water level.  Normally, the river is about 9 feet and when I digiscoped the above image it was over 18 feet.  Soon the river will recede and the birds can go along with their nesting plans.

There's plenty around for the song sparrows to eat.  I saw this early spring insect near the trees (that white stuff in the back of the photo is unmelted snow--yes, we still have some).  There were bird feeders nearby by too, chock full of millet so the song sparrows should be fine.

Ducks have been enjoying the high water, foraging in the grass right off the river.  Above you can see 2 mallards and an American black duck.  Remember the whole meme of Ducks Wear Dog Masks?

Apparently black ducks have do too, it's not just mallards.  Their dog mask is a bit more subdued.