Male Northern Pintail walking across frozen lake


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I photographed this Male Northern Pintail walking on a frozen lake in New Mexico. Northern Pintails are dabbling ducks, feeding with their head under the water so I don’t imagine this one hung around for long with the lakes frozen. I can’t imagine why their feet don’t freeze but ducks have a countercurrent heat exchange system in their legs. Their feathered body can be totally warm while the legs are cool and as a result they lose only a small amount of heat to the environment. Unlike our feet and legs, a duck’s legs are tendons and bones that require minimal oxygenated blood. I predict he is thinking, ‘How do I get my other foot off the ice so I can fly out of here?

sandra calderbank
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