On April 11, the Tweetspeak team was caught in the pouring rain Pymatuning State Park. Not very appealing weather for people, but the birds we saw didn’t seem to mind. Among the many geese, turkeys, gulls, and eagles, there was a group of about 40 or so Ruddy Ducks just wading in the water. This was the first time our team spotted this particular species, so I pulled out my Sibley Field Guide. The first thing I noticed was the depiction of the male with its sky blue bill. Along with a change in plumage for the breeding season, the bill of the male Ruddy Duck also changes from black or gray to a light blue. But how does this happen without losing and regrowing another entire bill? Join me as I try to figure out the science behind this bizarre change.
© Stephen Ramirez, TX, Port Aransas, June 2010