Thursday, April 24, 2008


Recently, it seems that everywhere I look, there is a duck or a goose. If it's not a duck or a goose, it's a swan. And if I'm unlucky, it's a chicken. I get to work, and there are chickens, ducks, and ducklings and chicklets. I go take pictures of flowers and there are ducks, swans, and geese. I get in my car, drive a block, and there is a random chicken running down the street. At work, I go looking for one chicken and find another. And if you've ever been to Lake Merritt for any purpose at all, you know that you can't help running into approximately 8,000 Canadian geese. Basically, they're everywhere.

Recently, I corrected Mick O on a fabulous photo of two white ducks. He had captioned the photo something about "geese." Those aren't ducks, I said, in my all-knowing-birder way. Oh, he said. Then he said "sometimes a duck is a goose." Crap, I thought, maybe he's right! What *is* the difference between the duck and a goose, and how the heck would I know? Further, we have a random duck with a giant red protrusion on his beak at work, and someone told me it was an "Egyptian Duck," but all google searches on the subject turned up "Egyptian Goose." Uh, Oh. (Not to mention, the duck at work looks nothing like an Egyptian Goose. I think it's actually a Muscovy Duck.)

A duck, it seems, is a bird belonging to a species in the Anatidae family of birds. Geese also belong to this family, but they also belong to the subfamily Anserinae, tribe Anserini. It appears that geese are ducks, but ducks are not always geese. I tried and tried to come up with a clear cut way to explain in this blog what the differences were, but bottom line: I can't. The best explanation I can find is on another blog: A Snail's Eye View. Basically, in size order, it goes ducks, geese, swans, smallest to biggest. Geese have longer necks. Geese can usually be found on land, and ducks in water (usually). Ducks usually eat fish and bugs, geese usually eat grains and grasses (usually).

And how did I know that that muscovy duck wasn't a Egyptian goose? He had a large red thing on his face. At first I thought he was sick. What kind of self respecting duck carries around a red protrusion on his face? The answer is a muscovy duck, and it's called a "Caruncle." The best picture I've found of a caruncle is this, by flickr photographer *~Laura~*:

So now that we've got all that clear, here we have a duck, a goose, and a swan, from yours truly.


two geese

swan (who made "explore"- a random flickr thing)

Update: since the original draft of this post, the ducks at work have gone to rescue, so I'm unable to photograph THE muscovy duck, or his bizarre caruncle, or the ducklings or chicklets. I'm sure I'll find a substitute soon.


Laura said...

I loved reading your post. One of my friends just photographed some Egyptian Geese down here in Florida. She didn't know what they were either until someone identified them for her. They are quite elegant looking so the name fits!
My photo looks great in your blog by the way! :)