Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)

The Torrent Duck is very special and one of the highlights of our trip to Colombia. They are only found living in the high courses of rapid flowing streams, with lots of rocks that serve as anchorage and resting places for them; most other ducks prefer calm waters and lakes to spend their time. This duck chooses a spot downstream for resting during the night, and at the morning it swims upstream against the strong current, until it finds a preferred feeding area. It then begins a cycle: Either the male or female mount guard from a comfortable rock, while the other feeds in a small pool or river region that has light current. When the food is gone, they both jump to the current and get dragged downstream until they reach the next feeding area, where again one of them mounts guard while the other one feeds. This is very unique behavior, one we could observe from very close at Yarumo Blanco SFF.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)

The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is a pretty duck, very similar in shape to the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, to the point that it can be confused with a Juvenile of the Black-bellied. I was lucky because three individuals came to swim on the lake by Concasa, so I spotted them when I returned home in the afternoon. This was unexpected, because I already knew that they only inhabit the northwestern region of Costa Rica, and should be not be found in the Central Valley. I took out my camera and snapped lots of pictures, because I assumed the birds would leave next day. And so they did, in the days afterwards there was no sight of them. Since then, a single individual has returned a few times joining a flock of Black-bellied, which seems pretty unusual. I have seen the Black-bellied pecking at this Fulvous, seemingly trying to drive it away, but it stays with the flock.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

The Muscovy Duck is a wild duck, but can also be found domesticated; I have seen them in Fraijanes (Alajuela), the University for Peace (Ciudad Colón) and La Sabana (San José), which are three parks you can visit either for free (La Sabana) or a small fee. The ones below are all domestic birds found in Concasa; there is a small lake where ducks usually stay. Domestic members of this duck species are very common in Costa Rica, obtained through crossing with the Barnyard duck. Crossed individuals come in a variety of black and white combinations, some even having entirely white plumage. Wild ducks are very nervous about people and don’t show almost any white on their plumage.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendroygna autumnalis)

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is found in flocks taking residence around small ponds and lakes, becoming accustomed to people and relatively approachable. At dusk, they usually flock to the air, making circular trajectories and a lot of noise, and finally descending again into their watery home. Their calls are very high pitched and loud. Their necks are very flexible, so when resting, they normally turn their heads back and tuck they into the middle of their wings; they also like to stand up in one foot, with the other one hidden inside their belly feathers. Their bills are characteristically pink, as well as their legs. Juveniles are duller and have brownish bills instead. The Fulvous Whistling-Duck belongs to the same family and is very similar in shape, but has a different plumage coloration and gray bill and legs.