There are many species of wildlife on our lake.
The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck). Many of the domestic breeds look like the wild birds, but usually are larger. They are variable in plumage, often lacking the white neck ring or having white on the chest. Feral domestic ducks breed with wild Mallards and produce a variety of forms that often show up with wild ducks, especially in city parks.
- The widespread Mallard has given rise to a number of populations around the world that have changed enough that they could be considered separate species. The "Mexican Duck" of central Mexico and the extreme southwestern United States and the Hawaiian Duck both are closely related to the Mallard, and in both forms the male is dull like the female. The Mexican Duck currently is considered a subspecies of the Mallard, while the Hawaiian Duck is still given full species status.
Mallard pairs are generally monogamous, but paired males actively pursue forced extra-pair copulations. Copulation between members of a pair usually takes place in the water after a long bout of elaborate displays. Forced copulations are not preceded by displays, and several males may chase a single female and mate with her.
Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.
This species has been introduced as an ornamental throughout much of the US and other parts of the world. These large European natives have established healthy growing populations along the Eastern Seaboard of the Mid-Atlantic states in the US. Their protected status has been challenged as of late by some state wildlife management agencies. The species is a grazer, and consumer of aquatic vegetation.
- Their unchecked foraging does damage to the environment ?as overgrazing by sheep and cattle might to range lands if not managed properly. The Mute Swans aggressive behaviors towards other species, and their overgrazing of aquatic habitat, results in less available resources and added strain on native species.
- The thought of hunting a beautiful white, graceful swan is too painful for many individuals to bear. The public opinion on this currently leans heavily towards the peaceful, majestic, graceful image of the swan.
- The Mute Swan in the US however, is an alien animal that is negatively impacting native species. If it ceased to breed in North America, it would still exist in it's native Europe, and North American Species would experience one less negative environmental impact. A variety of factors such as habitat destruction, and over hunting in the age of market gunners had pushed native North American swans towards extinction.
- Their continued recovery and that of other waterfowl, might warrant the absence of the Mute Swan--at least stateside, roaming free.
The Common Loon swims underwater to catch fish, propelling itself with its feet. It swallows most of its prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small.
Loons are water birds, only going ashore to mate and incubate eggs. Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, allowing efficient swimming but only awkward movement on land.
The Common Loon is flightless for a few weeks after molting all of its wing feathers at the same time in midwinter.
The Hooded Merganser
The Double-Crested Cormorant
- The Double-crested Cormorant is the most numerous and widespread North American cormorant. It's also the only one that occurs in large numbers inland as well as on the coast. Growing in numbers throughout its range, this cormorant is increasingly being blamed for declines in sport fisheries and for devastating fish farms.
- The Double-crested Cormorant makes a bulky nest of sticks and other materials. It frequently picks up junk, such as rope, deflated balloons, fishnet, and plastic debris to incorporate into the nest. Parts of dead birds are commonly used too.
- Large pebbles are occasionally found in cormorant nests, and the cormorants treat them as eggs.
- Double-crested Cormorant nests often are exposed to direct sun. Adults shade the chicks and also bring them water, pouring it from their mouths into those of the chicks.
- In breeding colonies where the nests are placed on the ground, young cormorants leave their nests and congregate into groups with other youngsters (creches). They return to their own nests to be fed.
Accumulated fecal matter below nests can kill the nest trees. When this happens, the cormorants may move to a new area or they may simply shift to nesting on the ground.
Family: Colubridae, Colubrid Snakes
Description 22-55 1/8"" (55.9-140.5 cm). Reddish, brown, or gray to brownish-black, with dark crossbands on neck region, and alternating dark blotches on back and sides at midbody. Pattern darkens with age, becoming black. Belly white, yellow, or gray, with reddish-brown or black crescent-shaped spots. No dark line from eye to corner of mouth. Juveniles more vivid. Scales keeled, in 21-25 rows. Anal plate divided.
Warning All water snakes in the genus Nerodia will bite if harassed. Their bite is not venomous. The Northern will strike repeatedly, and wounds caused by the bite will bleed profusely because of the anticoagulant quality of the snake's saliva. Northern Water Snakes are often mistaken for venomous Cottonmouths and killed on sight.