Male Wood Ducks may be the handsomest birds in the pond in spring and early fall, but, at about this time of year, they look like Marine boot camp recruits – fancy hairdos are shorn off and dress uniforms are for the future:

Duck 04.jpg

As we see from the bird above, the male Wood Ducks are molting into their dull “Eclipse” (aka “Basic”) plumage; they're also flightless in the process. The dowdy summer plumage probably evolved as needed camouflage during this vulnerable time. In September or October, the males again will don their full-feathered dress uniforms and helmet hairdos. When they do, they’ll be in their “Alternate Plumage,” as this male was last October:

(Brooklin, Maine)