The duck has a frozen beak: how could this happen? And what can he do to free himself?

It’s winter the hardest time of the year for wild animals. In fact, harsh temperatures, extreme weather events and lack of resources are just some of the challenges that small and large animals have to face. to survive. In the colder months, danger is always around the corner. As it turns out video created by a Swedish nature photographer Patrick Luther. Woman from Wild duckcrouching on the snowy banks of a body of water, he is faced with an unexpected and particularly complex problem to solve: its beak is almost completely frozen. But how could this happen? And how can a duck get out of such a situation?

It’s certainly not every day that someone sees you a bird with a frozen beakthankfully, but that’s exactly why the video shared by Luther generated a lot of curiosity and interest, even among ornithologists. First of all, we asked ourselves how could such a thing happen and we can search for the most plausible hypothesis without knowing other details starting with the ethology of the species. All ducks in the world are actually divided into two large groups according to the way they forage: surface ducks and these divers.

The surface ducks they are the species that they never dive completely underwater, but into which they simply slip just the head below the surface (the back of the body upwards!) or they graze it with their beak look for food. These are generally omnivorous birds and therefore do not have a particularly specialized diet. These divershowever, they are able to fully submerge and swim below the water levelwhere they mainly look for molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates or fish.

The Wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos) is coming back in the first category and, proceeding from this supposition, we may therefore suppose that between one dive and the next this female remained a long time at rest, so that the water on the upper surface of the beak froze several times, and layer upon layer was formed. layer, block of ice which you see in the video. On closer inspection, it is actually possible to notice how the lower part not frozenas well as the nostrils, which fortunately therefore allow this female to both breathe and open your mouth completely eat.

Surface-dwelling ducks, such as mallards, do not dive completely underwater, but with their hind legs raised

Now that we’ve hypothesized how this duck ended up with a frozen beak, it remains to be understood if and how he can get out of such a situation. As can always be seen from the video, the ice – although it does not threaten the opening of the beak and breathing – appears to be quite annoying. And indeed a duck will try to disconnect it several times he shakes his head and helps his claws. However, these two actions do not seem to have the desired effect all is not lost.

In fact, there are other typical duck behaviors that could help this duck free itself from the ice: tuck the head and beak between the wing feathers. Ducks and many other birds, in fact, when they sleep or need to rest, or again to hide from the cold, tucks its head between its body feathers or under its wings. Thus reduce both body surface area exposed to the elements protecting the one to which they lose most of their heat, i.e. their own beak. In the soft plumage of ducks and in contact with the skin temperature it is certainly better than the outer one and by keeping the beak warm for a long time, the ice slowly melts.

Male (left) and female mallards

Finally, there is another way to help this unfortunate female mallard: the body of water into which it submerges. Water, if it is in a liquid state, certainly is much warmer environment and above the freezing point, i.e. zero degrees. If the duck then continues to dip its frozen beak below the surface to search for food, without taking too many breaksit won’t take long for the ice to melt completely.

We don’t know how it ended in this case, but we can stay relatively calm about the health status of this unfortunate female mallard. Birds know well how to cope with winter. They’ve been doing it for thousands of years, and we’re sure this German girl will get away with it one way or another.

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