Northern Shoveler Ducks


The river is fine highway for a duck,
where driftwood makes good spot it may stand still.
There’s shores to dabble gently in the muck
with lamellae in elongated bills.

A Shoveler will migrate at its will,
whenever primal instinct moods have struck.
To aid its innate navigation skill,
the river is fine highway for a duck.

So here a pair stood, that I had the luck
of spotting, where desire I could fulfill
of need to photograph it while it’s stuck
where driftwood makes good spot it may stand still.

The Mississippi River bottoms fill
with lots of tiny protein laden guck,
for Northern Shovelers content is a thrill.
There’s shores to dabble gently in the muck.

Their spatulated beaks they sway to pluck
and sift invertebrates akin to krill.
Through water grass they dabble, skim, and shuck
with lamellae in elongated bills.

I blessed the day I spotted ducks from hill.
I found them when I heard the female cluck.
Imagine thoughts that sight just might instill
while walking where the chance is nip and tuck.
The river is fine highway for a duck.

Author Notes:

Lamellae – are comb-like structures used to sift in beaks of some birds.
Dabble – to dip. Many duck species, such as Shovellers, Mallards, and Teals, are known as dabblers.
Guck – a thick messy substance
Spatulated – shaped like a spatula
It – the “it” referred in stanza 3 is to a pair of ducks. The pair is it.

I spotted this pair of Northern Shoveler Ducks in the Mississippi River backwaters below Lock and Dam #4, above Hastings Minnesota. You only spot them during their migration. These likely came up from wintering in Mexico and are likely heading up to Canada. Many summer in Hudson’s Bay, but these are probably headed to Lake Winnipeg, which is directly above Minnesota.

The Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Central, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water. They feed by dabbling for plant food, often by swinging its bill from side to side and using the bill to strain food from the water. They use their highly specialized bill (from which their name is derived) to forage for aquatic invertebrates. Their wide-flat bill is equipped with well-developed lamellae (small, comb-like structures on the edge of the bill) that act like sieves, allowing the birds to skim crustaceans and plankton from the water’s surface. Despite their stout appearance, Shovelers are nimble fliers.This is a fairly quiet species. The male has a clunking call, whereas the female has a Mallard-like quack. Sourced: Wikipedia.

This poem is a Rondeau Redouble. I was reminded of this lovely format by a poem I reviewed this morning by tfawkis, Define Yourself.
A Rondeau Redouble is written on only two rhymes, but in five stanzas of four lines each and one of five lines. Each of the first four lines in Stanza 1 get individually repeated in turn once, by becoming successively the respective fourth lines of stanzas 2, 3, 4, & 5; and the first part of the first line is repeated as a short fifth line to conclude the sixth stanza. This can be represented as:
A1,B1,A2,B2 – b,a,b,A1 – a,b,a,B1 – b,a,b,A2 – a,b,a,B2 – b,a,b,a,(A1).
So the difficulty with this form, is to gather enough strong rhymes to allow it to flow, as there are 10 unique A rhymes, and 10 unique B rhymes, required. In addition the repeated lines need to transition throughout the poem smoothly.

This photograph was taken by the author himself on April 14, 2016.

Synergy of Poetry and Verse. Author, Poet, Photographer

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