Have you been to the Sanctuary lately and wondered where all of the pretty male ducks have gone? Well they are still here, they are just looking more drab than usual!
All ducks go through a molt at least twice a year, where they “shed” their current plumage and grow in new feathers. After nesting season the ducks molt into their eclipse plumage, which means they take on a more drab, brown look. In fall, the ducks then molt into their breeding plumage, where the bright colors we recognize come back.
Our Mandarin Duck, for example, molted into his eclipse plumage in early summer. Many guests were asking us where he went, because he looked so differently! Many ducks resemble females in the non-breeding season, and our Mandarin is certainly no exception! By mid-fall he will begin molting into his beautiful and vibrant breeding season colors.