We’re monitoring two flightless male Wood Ducks in a nearby marsh pond. They’re flightless because they’re in a severe molt called their “eclipse phase.”
We know where we can look for them without alarming the shy birds. Sometimes we see both together, sometimes only one. Most of the time, we see neither. But, we see enough of them to conclude that they are having a safe summer. If a racoon or other predator doesn’t get them, they should be back in full dress uniform this fall.
Many birds have significant molts, but those of male Wood Ducks seem more severe due to the contrast between their buzz-cut molt and their full-plumaged beauty. Compare this year’s summer molting drake (image taken September 4, 2018), above, with last year’s fall-plumaged one (taken October 11, 2017), below: