Waterfowl exhibit a whole host of different feeding behaviors, like diving, grazing, or foraging. The most common, however (or at least the most commonly recognized) is “dabbling” or “tipping”. Dabbling ducks like the Mallards pictured below will simply “tip up” in shallow water to forage on the aquatic plants along the bottom. Swans, geese, and teals also display this behavior, although their varying neck lengths allow each species to access food at different depths. It’s a perfectly practical adaptation but one that can certainly be amusing to watch.
Here are five photos of Mallards dabbling away for your amusement. All of these photos have been submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Bottoms up, duckies!
Mallards © Glenn Rifkin
Mallards © Nicole Mordecai
Mallards © Kris Bates
Mallards © Keith Gerrard
Mallards © Denise Cote
Fall is a great time to see a variety of waterfowl as they pass through Massachusetts on their way to their wintering grounds. Brant, Surf and White-winged Scoters, and Red-breasted Mergansers are best viewed along the sea coast, while Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Ducks are more likely to be found in marshes or on open bodies of freshwater anywhere in the state.
To see waterfowl to best advantage, join an expert naturalist during a guided fall waterfowl program at one of Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries. Or simply enjoy these five spectacular images of migrants you might be lucky enough to spot yourself, all previously submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.
Female Red-breasted Merganser © Nicholas Corvinus
Northern Pintails at Joppa Flats © Ken DiBiccari
Buffleheads © Myer Bornstein
Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega (also pictured: Mallard ducks)
Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa