As winter ends its thaw, the prairie’s smallest ponds and wetlands warm up first. These areas become seasonal homes to waterfowl and shorebirds migrating to the region as well as temporary stopovers for birds needing a rest and a good meal before traveling further north.
Shallow ponds are an important source of invertebrate protein, and as a dabbling (as opposed to diving) duck, the Green-winged Teal dips its head below the surface to strain out these tiny bits of food as it swims along. This time of year, the ducks are also busy building nests a short distance from the water, and ducklings will appear in 5-6 weeks – after about 20 days of round-the-clock incubation by a devoted mother. Photo Credit: Dave Shumway