We are all quietly hoping in the Duckery that 2011 may be the year for the Argentine Ruddy duck. Already we have a large clutch of fresh eggs awaiting incubation in the egg room, and a fertile egg dumped and then unfortunately predated in the aviaries.
These pretty little stifftails are the smallest cousins of the White-headed duck, North American ruddy duck and the African Maccoa. They are the proud owners of that classic rotund shape, deep set legs and feisty attitude we know and love so well. Even in the very stickiest of situations their reaction is to open up that beak and hiss violently at you. They are like the Basil Faulty of the bird world, violently expostulating at the nature of their treatment in human hands.
Stifftail have some of the best mating displays in the bird world. The white-headed duck vibrates his feathers and does a side-to-side shuffle dance to attract his mate, serenading her at all times with an off beat 3 time “beat, cheep cheep!” The Maccoa does a wonderful vibrating head extension, coupling it with a squeaky rasp of a wolf whistle and a foot kick. Hopefully in a few weeks time we can get the Argies showing off as well!
The babes pictured were hatched in 2008 and 2010, and considering the extended three year period it takes for them to reach sexual maturity, it could be touch and go! Hopefully by Downy Duckling Days (28th May – 7th June exclusive) they may be on triumphant display on the Duckery ponds.