Yesterday, professor of biology and ornithology Dr. Hutto came into the museum asking if I was interested in helping with a short, fun project (ALWAYS) — he was contacted by another faculty across campus who is working on an archaeological assemblage from a cave, which included multiple decoy ducks over two thousand years old.  The ducks and geese’s outstanding preservation is due to the dry climate they were found in, as well as their location towards the back of a cave.  This faculty was interested in identifying the different species present and Dr. Hutto had already done most of the work but was wondering if I’d like to search our collection for comparisons.  It was another one of those reaffirming reasons why I love my volunteer job while simultaneously reminding me why our collection is so important. 

Today’s post features one of my favorite duck drawers and includes the genus Aythya, which contains twelve species of diving ducks.  They’re a beautiful genus, and while I was going through the drawer I came across a four-legged canvasback (Aythya valisineria) which I had only heard rumors about.  One of the legs has been shoddily reattached with hot glue but I assure you, it is one freaky duck!

Reflection on Flickr.

Not really but this pair of male redheaded ducks were doing a synchronized swimming routine.
I think this is one of the more striking waterfowl and their name matchers their appearance making id easier.

Scientific stuff
Aythya americana
Medium-sized duck.Rounded head.Bill blue with black tip.Male with bright red head, gray back, and black chest and rear end.

The Redhead is known to lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads, at least 10 other duck species, and even nests of the American Bittern and Northern Harrier. Many parasiticallly laid eggs fail to hatch.