Reid Park 1/24/14

After my 6th attempt to locate the PINE WARBLER at Reid Park I was finally successful in seeing it for a while!  Though no pictures were obtained of that gem, I did manage a few of the waterfowl in the park.

Nictitating membrane on this Ring-necked Duck
Did you ever wonder how ducks can see their prey underwater, or perhaps how raptors protect their eyes from greedy chicks grasping for food?  I was able to catch a picture of this Ring-necked Duck that helps explain how.  

Unlike eyelids which open and close from the top and bottom of an eye, nictitating membranes like the one in this picture close from the front of the eye to the back of the eye.  It is also, in some cases, translucent allowing animals to see under water, through brush, and at high speeds.  Look closely at the eye and notice half is dark (with membrane) and half is light (no membrane).

This feature is also seen in sharks, reptiles, and some mammals such as your house cat! (keep them inside!)  Not all reptiles have these membranes.  If you have ever seen certain species of gecko lick their eyes they're simply 'licking the place' of an eyelid or nictitating membrane that would otherwise keep it moist and clean!

Neotropic Cormorants

There were also a few NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS hanging out around the edge of the south pond at Reid Park.  Yet another 'nictitating member' of the representatives there.

Male and Female Hooded Mergansers

Perhaps the star of the show was this pair of HOODED MERGANSERS.  This female was sharing her time between 2 dapper males.  How could she possibly choose between all those beautiful membranes?

Jake Mohlmann
Tucson, AZ

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