Remember the old movie?
That duck looks like him
senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere
I thought, “OMG! she’s right. It so does!” That reminded me of the 1984 Amadeus moving starring Tom Hulce. the way he skipped around with his fluffy hair cresting above him. Loved that movie and it introduced me to some of Mozart’s music that I hadn’t heard before.
The hootamaganzy aka the hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) has a glorious crest, a lovely hair-gelled confection to knock out the eyes of the ladies. Ok, no hair gel involved. It just looks like it.
Although they are not endangered, their population had declined due to deforestation. This has improved a little lately with changes in timber management keeping some mature trees around. The hootamaganzy nest in cavities so they need big trees to provide a big enough space.
Heussman and Early did a study and found that hootamaganzy will use wooden boxes mounted on cedar poles or dead trees. They checked to see if ducks would use a plastic bucket alternative and while Wood ducks didn’t mind, hootamaganzy turned their noses up at the trailer park edition. Nine out of ten refused to use the plastic. They chose to nest again in the wooden nest houses again.
These proud ducks can trace their lineage back to the Pleistocene era. In 1955, “Brodkorb in a recent note on a fossil gull from Florida has commented on the apparent resemblance of the Pleistocene duck, Querquedula floridana, named from a humerus from deposits at Vero, Florida, to the modern Hooded Merganser.”(Wetmore, 1955) This set off a flurry of research at the Smithsonian where Wetmore did indeed find that humerous belonged in the hootamaganzy family so they renamed the arm bone and the rest of the bird Lophodytes floridanus. They found another humerus in Melbourne that belonged to the Lophodytes floridanus family so the bird got around.
The Vera and Melbourne Pleistocene sites date back further but more recent Pleistocene diggings also found the modern Lophodytes cucullatus type of bones so they’ve been around awhile. Whether the cucullatus and the floridanus were actual contemporaries is unknown at this time given the floridanus were found at older sites. The Pleistocene started 126,000 years ago, give or take 5,000 years, and ended about 11,700 years ago so you can see why it would be rather hard to know if something was contemporaneous or not.
So having come over with the Ice Age, you can see why the hootamaganzy would turn up their noses at plastic boxes unlike their plebeian brethren the wood ducks.
Photo by USA National Park Service
A Comparison of Wooden Boxes and Plastic Buckets as Waterfowl Nest Structures
H. W. Heusmann and Thomas Early, Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006), Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 45-48
The Genus Lophodytes in the Pleistocene of Florida.
by Alexander Wetmore, Field and Study, May 1955, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 189.
The Ragtag Daily Prompt now has it’s own blog site called the “Ragtag Community“. Each day of the week a prompt is presented by a different person. Today’s is “duck” by me, Cactus Haiku. Come and participate by posting writing or images evoked by the word and add your pingback or link to the comments there. Hope to see you at Ragtag Community!
Amadeus: Director’s Cut [Blu-ray]
Workbench Projects: Hooded Merganser Drake (Wood Carving Project) Spiral-bound
Hooded Merganser (Audubon) Metal Tin Trinket Box (4″x6″) & Jigsaw Puzzle (110 Pieces) Set
If you’re into crafting, Cricut is having a holly July Christmas so crafters can start getting ready for xmas gifts. Sale runs July 18-24. Here are some specials (click on the text links for each category):
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$20 off Cricut BrightPad. Valid 7.18-7.24.
$70 off Cricut Explore machines. Valid 7.18-7.24.
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