Eclipse Plumage for Mr. Drake Mallard


e’ve had a total solar eclipse in the United States this past month. It was a natural phenomenon that was pretty darned amazing. The information shared on

social media and from NASA was remarkable. It was awesome to be within the 83% eclipse range in Minnesota. I was able to see a sliver of the sun through the clouds that day.

Eclipse Plumages are also a natural phenom- enon. They happen mid-summer when waterfowl begin molting. The males start losing their feath- ers one at a time from primary feathers to th

tips of the wings in a slow process. The drakes are grounded during this molting, they are cannot fly for 20 to 40 days. They lose their bright green, distinctive head feathers blending in with their female counterparts. Sort of, since the now pe- destrian looking males are hanging out exclusive- ly with each other. They are keeping a low profile in their extremely vulnerable condition. They stick to the shoreline in the dense vegetation, prefer- ring wetlands. This not only protections them

but it provides an abundance of food and shelter. Meanwhile, the females are pretty busy raising the ducklings while the drakes are grounded.

It will be high time for migration, and a trip up to Duluth is in order for the Hawk Ridge Festival, September 15–17. I love watching the hawks fly- ing in those “kettles.” A couple of years ago I got to release a sharp-shinned hawk.

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