Phylis – The White Crested Duck


This is the story of Phylis – The White Crested Duck.  The ladies in the office at Lake Tomahawk named her Phylis after Phylis Diller, because of her feathers on her head.  Shortly after moving to WNC, I started to visit Lake Tomahawk and photograph all the waterfowl and flowers.  Phylis was one of the first ducks I encountered.


Phylis would be quacking and swimming the lake, often keeping by herself.  She was too sophisticated for the Pekin boys who swam the lake in their little family herd of six.


Phylis would also meander across the grass eating it for the nutrients she could gain.  She was a very confident female duck.

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Phylis was all lady.  She took time out for the small pleasures in life like stopping to look across the lake.

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Phylis started to molt her head feathers.  I guess that is part of being a White Crested Duck.


But after they started growing in she met the duck of her dreams.  He was a Pekin duck, but had more manners then the Pekin boys.  I would see them swimming together and foraging together.  I started to think that we may have little White Crested Ducks coming soon.


Phylis would sunbath and sleep in the water.


The last day I saw Phylis, she was sleeping next to Esmeralda (the Matriarch of all the Pekin boys).  The ladies were just have a little girl time together.  It was June 27th.  I never saw Phylis again.  I frequent all the lakes within a 25 mile radius all around and no sight of her.  White Crested Ducks also seldom fly like Pekins their body mass is too heavy to fly well.  Lake Tomahawk had a concert series and fireworks around July 4th and I feel something nefarious happened to Phylis.  Wherever Phylis is, she will always be remembered and loved.

Update:  I recently found out, Phylis’s body was found and more than likely the Pekin males were responsible for her death.  Unfortunately, if there are not enough females for the males, the males will basically gang rape a female and it can result in their death.  Now Phylis had a boyfriend, but he must have not been a strong enough male to protect her.  Last year, I witnessed a gang rape of a Mallard hen and shewed the Mallard males away.  The Mallard hen also had a mate.  Phylis will always have a place in our hearts.  She’s in heaven with the angels now.


Mandarins – Part I

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After relocating to Western North Carolina last April I quickly found the different lakes and hiking trails.  One day while I was hiking at a local lake I saw the Mandarin ducks.  I fell in love.  We do not have Mandarin Ducks in NJ and I have only seen them on the Internet.  There were three mails together and apparently it was due to the fact the hens were in the boxes sitting on their eggs.  I would see an expectant Mandarin father sitting on his box and see a rustling inside.


When the expectant father went into the box it would give the hen some freedom and I would see her on the lake or flying across.

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The females aren’t as magnificently colored as the males, but they are still beautiful.  Mandarin females and Wood Duck females are somewhat similar and hard to tell apart.  The colors on their wings are a little different but not by that much.

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The Mandarin males on the other hand are brilliantly colored.  They are striking and unlike any other species of duck.  They look as if someone has painted them.

On Mother’s Day, I finally got to see one of the Mandarin families.  The hen brought out her 12 chicks and they followed her all across the lake.

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In a little while the Mandarin father came out to swim with his family.

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They moved their family to another location shortly after I took this photo on Mother’s Day last year.   The Mandarin mother should receive the Mother of the Year award.  : )