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Birds page 7

Animal Stories: Because I like to kayak and canoe, I often encounter waterfowl. When I was young, living in Illinois, there were lots of Canada geese around. They would float in large rafts on the rivers and not even try to move out of our way as we canoed past. They are very aggressive birds. In Austin, Town Lake is a wonderful place to see wood ducks. Several years ago, they put up nest boxes to encourage the wood ducks to breed. Now, most of those boxes are in disrepair, but the ducks are still all over the place. They are adorably small, especially the babies. The other noticeable waterfowl on Town Lake are mute swans. These European imports are very large and not at all afraid to approach a small boat. They even intimidate our dog, who usually loves to chase ducks and geese. Our closest encounter with a duck, this time a female mallard, occured during a severe drought a couple of summers ago. We keep a small dog dish of water in our front yard for the benefit of the local wildlife and usually enjoy seeing squirrels drink and bluejays bathe. This time, however, there was a huge duck sitting in the dish, completely covering it. She only wandered off a little way when I went out to replace the small bowl with a larger plastic tub. She quickly returned and spent the next couple days sitting and bathing in the tub. She would disappear for hours then return, probably having gone off to feed. Eventually she moved on to a more suitable body of water.

Canvasback (zoo)

White-faced Whistling Ducks (zoo)

Domestic Ducks (Lake Travis, Texas)

Mandarin Ducks (Rain Forest Exhibit, Moody Gardens, Galveston, Texas)

Redheaded Duck (zoo)

Smew (zoo)

Magpie Goose (zoo)

Canada Geese (Cook County Forest Preserve District, Illinois)

Egyptian Goose (zoo)

Magellan Geese (zoo)

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