Beautiful ducks of Duke Gardens, Durham, NC

One of the highlights of studying at Duke was walking through the Duke Gardens and observing the daily habits of the many ducks that frequent the pond in the Asiatic Arboretum. I came to realize that they all had very active lives and interesting relationships.

The colorful Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) and green wood duck (Aix sponsa) were almost never seen apart, preening and no doubt bragging amongst themselves that they were the most beautiful ducks on the pond.

ducks-1 ducks-2

The hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) often went for long dives of several minutes, resurfacing on the other side of the pond. While this made it more difficult to view them, it was still quite the treat to see them flatten and then hoist their head sails.


For drama, the muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata) never failed to disappoint. The females would always wander off without the male, who would become distraught and look for them. I imagined that they thought he was a buffoon. My husband called them this the "tur-duck" (turkey duck).


In spring, my year of duck-watching was rewarded with the sight of eight baby ducks swimming to toward me. Based on how excited they got to see a human, I suspect they've been receiving treats.

Leave a Reply