Three amigos: Spring greenheads on a backyard pond
Perhaps my favorite thing about nature is that I’m constantly reminded of what I don’t know. We are so often bombarded with sure-fire ways to kill this or catch that, that sometimes it’s easy to forget there is a lot happening in nature that we just don’t understand.
Case-in-point is a completely anecdotal example of three mallards in my backyard pond. On our property is the tail end of a pond that maybe covers a full acre at its highest point each spring. The sheer amount of ducks and geese that visit each spring and fall is impressive, as is the frog population. What has caught my eye this week though, are the Three Amigos.
For at least a couple of years now I’ve noticed that as soon as the ice gives way on the edges of the pond, three greenheads show up. Since I photograph ducks quite a bit, I always watch the pond for these early arrivals. Yesterday, they showed again. Now I can’t say for certain that they are the same ducks from the previous years, but the curly tails and the timing of the whole thing has me wondering: Are they the same birds? If so, that impresses me.
To think of three greenheads making it through several hunting seasons, avoiding the general pitfalls of duck life, and then returning to the same small pond year after year is pretty cool. I don’t know for sure if it’s them or not, but I suspect it is.
Naturally, that leads me to wonder if some of the ducks I see in the fall are the same birds I’ve laid eyes on in the past. Or if I’ve missed the exact same ducks from year to year, which would really be something.
Perhaps it’s nothing more than coincidence that every spring three drake mallards show up together. It’s something to ponder during late March, when I’m waiting for the pond to thaw completely and a familiar hooded merganser to show up to chase his mud-minnow dinners all over through the shallows.