STUDY IN WIGEON: Lave

STUDY IN WIGEON: Lave

Quotation MarksSomething about watching birds preen is so fascinating and relaxing, and this little American Wigeon (Anas americana) drake is displaying the best part of the laving process, the head as a sponge. Many birds, especially waterfowl, possess preen glands (uropygial gland) at the base of their tail, and without hands, they use the next best thing, their head, to access the sebaceous oil (preen oil) produced by the gland. They accumulate preen oil from that gland, using their head and beak, and disperse it over their body for feather integrity and waterproofing, as well as healthy beaks, legs and feet. Some scientist also speculate that preen oil also provides an anti-parasitic effect that protects against feather lice, however this has not been verified. God indubitably creates the most ingenious and amazing systems!

—A. deLeeuw

Arizona, U.S. | 1/320 | F6.3 | ISO 320 | 420mm

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Written on July 19th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Circumspection

STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Circumspection

Quotation MarksSomehow, while away from home, I lost my trajectory on my Wigeon Study, but now that I have finally remembered my working theme, here is a new edition of the American Wigeon (Anas americana). I love this drake’s expression, because he remains completely vigilant during his postprandial preening. Of course, it does not hurt one bit that he is just stunning in his own right!

—AdL

Arizona, U.S. | 1/640 | F9 | ISO 4000 | 420mm

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Written on July 15th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Togetherness

STUDY IN WIGEON: Togetherness

Quotation MarksApparently for American Wigeon (Anas americana) couples, to dabble together is to stay together. In case, you ever want to identify American Wigeon drakes from hens solely by the underside of their bellies and derrieres, this is the photo for you. The drake is on the left, and obviously the hen on the right. They dabbled in unison for a good 10 to 15 minutes, and then paddled off together.

—AdL

Arizona, U.S. | 1/320 | F6.3 | ISO 320 | 420mm

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Written on June 26th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Bill Preen

STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Bill Preen

Quotation MarksIn my previous Study in Wigeon post, I provided a monographlet on the mandibular lamellae (comb-like grooves) present in duck bills, though the photo did not actually display any lamellae. This photo of an American Wigeon drake (Anas americana), though not as crisp as the previous post, does exhibit these delicate though ultimately utilitarian features. Although generally thought to allow ducks to filter food from the unsavory debris, apparently it can also be serviceable for preening and waterproofing plumule (down feathers) and pennae (contour feathers), as exemplified here.

—AdL

Arizona, U.S. | 1/800 | F9 | ISO 3200 | 420mm

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Written on June 20th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Macro, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Bill

STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Bill

Quotation MarksThe bill, for dabbling ducks, is really crucial for their feeding style, so American Wigeons (Anas americana) have scores of maxillary and mandibular lamellae (comb-like grooves) along the interior rim of the bill. The number of lamellae varies among different species of waterfowl, but American Wigeons have seventy lamellae on the maxilla, and fifty-five on the mandible. The exact purpose of the lamellae in dabbling ducks is poorly understood, but the general consensus is that these grooves allow the duck to sift and expel the detritus, like mud and grit, and retain the desired particles, such as seeds, invertebrates and grasses.

For even more versatility, by articulating the maxilla and mandible to essentially resize the sieve (lamellar separation), the wigeon, as well as other waterfowl with lamellae, can select the size of particles to eject or retain. For more research, check out: Predicting Resource Partitioning and Community Organization of Filter-Feeding Dabbling Ducks from Functional Morphology. Although this photo does not reveal the lamellae, it does focus on that special tool, the duck bill.

—AdL

Arizona, U.S. | 1/500 | F10 | ISO 4000 | 420mm

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Written on June 15th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Macro, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Rotogravure

STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Rotogravure

Quotation MarksI love patterns in all things—animal behavior, weather, numbers, human behavior, nature, etc.—so when I had the opportunity to take macro photos of an American Wigeon as he napped and preened, I snapped away. Just look at all those spectacular and multifarious designs on one diminutive wigeon drake! I cannot apprehend how He can integrate a cacophony of formations into an exquisite and sublime harmony. Augment that with depth that creates an elegant engraved effect to each respective feather, and I am simply giddy with delight!

—AdL

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Written on June 13th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Macro, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Hen

STUDY IN WIGEON: Hen

Quotation MarksThe American Wigeon (Anas americana) hen is arguably lackluster compared to her splendiferous drake partner, but still God limns her delicate feather motif with a meticulous and tender brush. How can I not appreciate her in her glorious camouflageable plumage, especially after she has just completed her morning ablution to titivate her habiliments. Now she is one more aesthetic brushstroke of God’s American Wigeon pastiche.

—AdL

Written on June 11th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Tails

STUDY IN WIGEON: Drake Tails

Quotation MarksOne of my enduring favorite musicals is Fred Astaire’s “Top Hat,” that has one of his outstanding performances, “Top Hat and Tails.” Of course he is sporting his iconic top hat and tails that are so dignified, although many men may be loathe to don it. The exquisite tail feathers of the American Wigeon (Anas americana) drake are reminiscent of tuxedo tails with their crisp lines and hint of royal blue. Although these luxuriant indigo feathers simulate a tail, they are actually interlaced flight feathers of the wings bisecting the rump, but are they not a stunning “tail?!”

—AdL

Written on June 7th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Macro, Study in Wigeon
STUDY IN WIGEON: Inversion

American Wigeon Inversion

Quotation MarksHow can a pastiche of the American Wigeon (Anas americana) be complete without the aft view of my favorite drake. It is quite common to see the dabblers in this pose, but the ripples and reflections make this portrait special.

—AdL

Written on June 5th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Birds, Study in Wigeon
Orange Dog: No Beauty or Majesty

Orange Dog: No Beauty or Majesty

Quotation MarksThis little guy, who I came to love, brought to mind a passage from Isaiah regarding Jesus: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) In the U.S. particularly, we so often focus on the superficial countenance, but God says, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Even when He sent His only Son to die for us, He chose to use a plain visage that, “…had no beauty or majesty.” I imagine He wanted to assure that we not fixate on His personal allure, or be captivated by His charisma. What He offered was so much greater than what human attraction could appreciate or, the human mind could conceive. I pray that today we may all look beyond the surface of others, of ourselves, and especially of God, Who loves us more perfectly and utterly than we can ever truly comprehend!

—AdL

The entire chapter reads:
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53

Written on June 4th, 2014 , 5th Day Photography, Insects, Macro, Study in Wigeon

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