Last Tuesday, like many people here in Reno, I woke to the sound of cracking branches. Five inches of heavy, wet snow fell outside of our house in the night, landing on tree branches which were still covered in leaves. And now we have a lot of firewood.
Down in Idlewild Park, the trees didn’t fare much better. By the time I made it down to the river, the snow was melting from the treetops in avalanches of slush, and broken branches lay all around. When was the last time we’ve had so much snow? Definitely a photo-worthy morning.
Schools were cancelled and houses all over town had no power, but for the Mallards, all was business as usual. They paddled along through the cold, feeding on plants or insects below the surface. This time of year, Mallards form pairs that will last through the next breeding season, and begin to gather into winter flocks (thanks to Dylan Kuhn for sharing this info!). As they form pairs, their behavior involves a lot of head bobs and chasing.
Although Mallards are common on the Truckee River year-round, they are also a migratory species, meaning that the Mallards we see in November might not be the same birds we saw here in May. Then again, they might be; some populations of Mallards stay in once place throughout the year. I’m not sure if anyone has ever studied the Truckee River Mallards and where they go, but if anyone out there has more information on this, please do share!
For more on Mallards, check out this species account.