A trio of nonbreeding male Wood Ducks floats in the Horicon Marsh on a 70 degree calm Friday evening. Wood Ducks nest from April to August. Drakes begin molting their colorful breeding plumage in July, but retain their white throat, colorful bill, and distinctive red eye.
Molting birds are flightless for 3-4 weeks. Handsome new breeding plumage will develop later this summer.
The striped juvenile Pied-billed Grebe practices diving amid short marsh reeds. Pied-billed Grebes nest from April until October and may have two broods.
The adult Pied-billed Grebe stays within a few yards of its young and still has its breeding plumage. The male and female look alike. They can dive up to 20 feet and stay submerged for up to 30 seconds.
Mallards have a long nesting season from February to September. They typically have one brood. The ducklings are following their mother’s example, skimming the surface of the water for insects and vegetation.
A muskrat has been busy walking through the mud that is present along Highway 49 since the water level has been lowered. Dragging his tail creates the line between the tracks.
“Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam
Do the jitterbug out in Muskrat Land”
Do you remember these lyrics to a popular song? Can you name the song, the artist(s) who made it famous, and the year it was popular? If so, let us know your answers in the comments section.
Muskrats Suzie and Sam don’t have time to do the jitterbug at the Horicon Marsh. They have been building their houses for the winter. How many do you see in the photo?
The song lyrics go on to say that muskrats nibble on bacon and chew on cheese. Actually, muskrats love to eat cattails. They use cattails, along with mud, to build their houses, called “push-ups.” They probably got this name because it takes so much exercise to build the dome. I’m just kidding. There is an underwater entrance and they keep dry in the chamber above the water. Canada Geese and Mallards may nest on top.
If the songwriter had visited the Horicon Marsh first, before writing the tune, we would be singing a totally different song.