Visiting Blue-winged Teals, an American Coot share the pond with nesting Canada Geese.
It’s a chilly, gray day and the pondscape is still brown, but the calendar says its spring.
A pair of Canada Geese are nesting on a spit of land that juts out into the pond. At the base of the peninsula is a cattail marsh.
I can’t tell if there are any eggs, yet, but the female spends a lot of time on the nest while the male stands guard just offshore.
Now and then, the female leaves the nest for food or a romantic rendezvous with her mate. Swimming with necks outstretched is a goose’s way of saying, “Hubba, hubba!”
An American Coot wades through shallow water with its stunning green feet in search of underwater vegetation to eat.
A flock of Blue-winged Teal is here, too, snorkling for food. They hold their bills just below the water surface to scoop up aquatic insects or plants. Occasionally, one will stop and stick its entire head and neck underwater to reach a morsel deeper in the water. This style of feeding is called “dabbling.” Shallow and heavily vegetated bodies of water, like the beaver pond, are preferred by both Blue-winged Teal and American Coots.
The teal have come a long way.. They winter in South America and migrate each spring to their nesting grounds on the northern plains and around the Great Lakes..The beaver pond is just a stop-over for them, a bed-and-breakfast for the tired and hungry travelers. I wonder how many stars they would give the pond.
As I watch, two of the teal snorkle over to a spot where a fisherman has lost an orange lure. I hold my breath, as one nearly hooks its bill on the lure, which may look to the duck like a fish or shellfish. It stops short, then turns away. Then, the other duck walks over to the lure, almost stepping on it. The, it too wanders away. A close call!
In nearby trees, a nuthatch appears to come out of a hole in a tree. It looks all around, as if scanning for predators. Cardinals are numerous in the trees and shrubs around the pond. The female wears more subdued colors than the bright red male, but both have a crest and thick, orange bill.
I find more handiwork of the beaver, a tree gnawed around base. Like an axe blade, a beaver’s teeth would soon be dulled by gnawing wood, but they grow continually to retain a sharp edge.
Without beavers, this pond would not exist, providing sustenance for ducks, geese, frogs, turtles, fish, birds and countless other wild creatures.