Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wood Duck~ Mississauga Wildlife Pictures ~ Sparrow, Squirrel, Mallards

Mallard ducks are commonly seen in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada), but wood ducks are a rare delight! When I saw my first one the other day, a male at Lake Aquitane, I took his picture as well as photos of other wildlife -- mallard ducks, a sparrow and a gray squirrel -- that were in and around the lake. Click on image to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Mississauga Lake Aquitane
Jo-Anne lives in this area and emailed to tell me about the wood duck:
I just spent the past 1/2 hour in cold wind and rain, watching a male Wood Duck trying to mate with a female Mallard -- and having no luck! They are in the far NW corner of the lake, behind the community centre.

I grabbed my camera and drove to Meadowvale Community Centre, about a half-hour drive, where I parked near Lake Aquitane dock.

Male Wood Duck
I couldn't believe my luck! This male wood duck was still swimming around with the mallards, trying his best to woo a female mallard. His distinctive plumage made him easy to spot.
Says Jo-Anne:
The male Wood Duck was following her everywhere and making high pitch squeaky sounds.
He kept tilting his head back and showing off the beautiful bright white chin area. All of a sudden, he hopped right up out of the water and attempted to land on her back! She was having nothing to do with it!
He then started to follow her again, a male Mallard swam in front of him and they both had a hissing match. The male Wood Duck then decided to approach other female Mallards but they wanted nothing to do with him. They would quack at him then swim away. 

 Wood Duck Male with Female Mallard
The ducks swam around the dock area for about 20 minutes or so, the wood duck courting the mallard lady, with the male mallards in close pursuit, trying to protect their interests.

Male Wood Duck -- Female Mallard
Here's another shot of the ducks. The wind was fairly gusty, and the earlier rains seemed ready to return. The ducks were moving fairly quickly which made it a challenge to get a telephoto picture for a close up.
Two Males ~ Mallard and Wood Duck
This picture shows the male mallard swimming interference for his lady friend, as he tries to keep the wood duck at bay.
 Wood Duck and Mallards Swimming in Reeds
As the ducks left the dock area, they headed towards the naturalized grasses of the lake shore. For the next 15 minutes or so, the ducks continued to swim along the shoreline on the south side of the lake.

Almost as colorful as Woody the Wood Duck is Harley the Harlequin spotted the week of the Christmas Bird Count.

Male Female Mallards
With the wood duck heading along the lake shore, the remaining mallards -- male and female -- formed a group near the dock. Looks like there's safety in numbers! 

Sparrow in Red Wood Shrub
Also near the dock, closest to the community centre, the shoreline shrubbery was rustling with these little sparrows.
Gray Squirrel - Mississauga Lake Aquitane
The male wood duck and the mallards he was bothering had swum out of sight along the south shore. I continued along the trail that goes around Lake Aquitane, and came across this gray squirrel near the dam.
I feel sort of sorry for the male Wood Duck actually. He needs a female Wood Duck around.

So if anyone knows where 'Woody' can meet a female Wood Duck in the Meadowvale area of Mississauga, do leave a comment below telling me where, and I'll pass it along. I'm sure the mallards would appreciate his finding a lady of his own!

Here's the googlemap of the community centre. Scroll around, zoom out, to see lake and walking trails.

View Larger Map
Related: (On my website) Mississauga Wildlife pics


Jo-Anne said...

Karen ... awesome photos and write-up! It was really great meeting you in person for the first time yesterday. :)

Sadly, no sign of the Wood Duck today at Lake Aquitaine or Lake Wabukayne. He must have known this cold, rainy, hail/ice/snow pellets weather was coming today. Brrrrr!

Karen said...


If Woody has indeed gone to warmer, more companionable climes, then I am even more grateful that you told me about him when you did!

Great to meet you too!

Even tho we didn't meet up via Twitter, I wonder if this is still technically a 'Tweetup'?

Groan :-)

Anonymous said...

Great photos Karen! Well done on catching Mr Wood Duck before his departure to somewhere warmer.

As always your photos make me feel like I'm right there. Ps - loved the sparrow shot!


Karen said...

Hey Teena!

Thanks for noticing the little sparrow!

Not as showy as 'Woody', perhaps, but quite lovely in its own right.

Now how about you post a pic of a kookaburra :-)

Sheila and Keith said...

Hi Karen,

Woody is a beauty ! Hope he finds he own lady duck love, then will come little wood ducklings ! We need more.

Karen said...

Hi Sheila

Megan says she knows someone making a wood carving of a Wood Duck - how gorgeous will this be!

Meanderer said...

They are some gorgeous photos you've posted.
If only the paintwork wasn't so far fetched on that wooden duck I could almost be convinced it was alive! ;)

Karen said...

News from Jo-Anne:

I just got in from walking around Lake Aquitaine and he's back!

Gorgeous male Wood Duck swimming around with male and female Mallards in the NW corner of the lake (behind the community centre), close to the concrete barrier.

He's still trying to mate with a female Mallard but she just "laughs" (quacks) at him and swims away. First the male Wood Duck was on the left side of the concrete barrier then he flew to the right side, swam around a bit then hopped up onto some ice to preen himself.

Afterwards, he climbed up onto the grass and rocks area directly behind.

Observed some interesting behaviour today ...

1. Male Wood Duck rearing far up out of water, tilts way back and lets loose with high pitched squeaking sounds.

2. Male Mallard swims up to another male Mallard, grabs his bill and shakes him hard!
I guess the "winner" then jumped on a female Mallard and pushed her right underwater.

3. Squirrels climbing face first down tree trunk ... with each step, they would stop, stretch out their furry arms and paws then wiggle their "fingers" around! This was quite hilarious to watch!

Other adventures/sightings today at the lake from 10am onwards:

I was hand feeding some squirrels when a Blue Jay and male Cardinal appeared. Both demanded food! Lots of Sparrows showed up as well.

Lots of very agitated Crows on the North side of the lake close to a high-rise building.

I took a good look around but didn't see any sign of hawks or owls. Perhaps tomorrow's New Moon is affecting them.

Hundreds of Starlings in the NW corner of the lake - lately, they're enjoying lining up all along the rooftop of my building.

One Canada Goose swimming around close to the wooden dock/lookout area.

Not sure how long the male Wood Duck will be hanging around up here but he'll probably be sighted at Lake Wabukayne as well.

I stood observing him for one hour today here at Lake Aquitaine. At the time, light snow was coming down - very pretty.

Last sighted this guy here back on November 26th with you - hadn't seen him since; I figured that he had headed down to Florida or Texas for the Winter where he should actually be!


Karen said...

Mark at South Peel Naturalists Club ( says a male Harlequin has been seen today at Lake Ontario and the Waterfront Trail between Mississauga Road and Ben Machree Park.

I will try to spot him tomorrow and take his picture, too!

I saw a Merganser male at the Port Credit Marina on Sunday last, but too far away to photo.

The Great Christmas Bird Count takes place this Saturday Dec 19 from Lake Ontario north to Britannia Road.

Again, will try to get photos, and observe.

Unknown said...

Well too bad you didn't call me before you went, I have hands-on experience recording duck mating rituals, in case you forgot about my earlier works! Also those little sparrows love to pick the leaves off shrubs like that. I would watch them all the time at U of T while sitting outside.

Karen said...

Hi Mel!


Thought of you and the mallards mating ! Had wondered if we still had the video somewhere!

That one, and the robin 'Predator' one - a classic!

Karen said...

Jo-Anne sent this message:

Saw the male Wood Duck here at Lake Aquitaine yesterday. It appears that he has finally bonded with a female Mallard - she no longer chases him away or quacks at him - instead she is sticking by his side and swimming around with him. I'm happy to see this!

Perhaps this year we'll see some Wood Duck X Mallard hybrid babies.

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