First, click here, come back, and then we’ll talk about it.
Photographer Bill Majoros captured the photo (linked to above) at Duke Gardens here in Durham, NC. The duck is a young male Wood Duck and the turtle looks to be a Red Ear Slider although I’m not positive about the turtle’s ID.
According to Bill, he observed this “…wood duck giving this nice little turtle a “free ride” across the duck pond at Duke Gardens.”
After asking Biil what happened to the turtle, he replied, “he [the duck] just dropped it in shallow water, then picked it up again, then dropped it, and then swam away.”
Besides being a fantastic photo, as are all of Bill’s photos, it’s a fascinating look into the behavior of young ducks. What was this duck doing? Wood Ducks are primarily vegetarians with 90% of their diet being plants, fruit, and nuts with the remainder consisting of aquatic insects and other invertebrates. But this from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center suggests that the Wood Duck in the photo may have at least considered eating the little turtle: “The early diet of ducklings consists largely of insects, aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and other high-protein animal material.”
Of course, the bird may have been doing what all youngsters do, putting whatever they can grab into their mouths – experimenting. Once in its mouth, the bird probably figured that this turtle, as small as it might be, was still too much to handle (good thing for the turtle, and probably good for the duck too, the turtle may have lodged in its throat!).
I encourage you to explore Bill’s web site for other fascinating photos, it’s full of great photography of birds (and chocolate Labs), music, and, well, have a look for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
Oh yeah, if you’re interested in nature photography, pay special attention to this section of Bill’s web site:
Bill had some of his fine photography on display at Grayson’s Cafe here at the Museum some time ago and still has some photos in the Tree Top Gift Shop in the Butterfly House.