There’s a wetlands pond not far away, with a group of friendly, habituated Mallards . . . and a small contingent of alert, migrating ducks (this week: Wigeons) who keep to themselves in the shade of the reeds, as far from humans as possible.

American Wigeons sleeping

American Wigeon Nap - ©ingridtaylar

The Mallards approach any new human. The possibility of food from neighborhood locals is too great for them not to exploit it. When someone does arrive with snacks, mayhem ensues in the bird world. Gulls send the word, crows swoop in, and the Mallards are in chaos.

It’s probably no surprise that I love photographing Mallards, since I obviously have a weakness for the unsung and common birds: the pigeons, the gulls, the crows and corvids, the starlings. Their commoness belies their complex coloration and eclectic behavior that, although not exotic, is fascinating to watch — especially since they often live in our midst, in urban centers.

The American Crow in this series (Corvus brachyrhynchos) settled on a perch above the pond, looking for a way into the mess for some leftovers. He watched the scene like a Wimbledon spectator — swiveling left, right, left, right. Then, a person strolled too close with a camera and he spooked into a nearby tree. Game over.

Mallards chasing food

Mallard Melee - ©ingridtaylar

American Crow Perched on Seattle Pond

Pond Perch - ©ingridtaylar

American Crow Perched on Branch

Crow Assessment - ©ingridtaylar

Mallards drakes chasing female

The Chaos Below - ©ingridtaylar

Mallards swimming

Duck Chase - ©ingridtaylar

Scuffle - ©ingridtaylar

Crow in Flight

Spooked - ©ingridtaylar

American Crow in Evergreen Tree

Safe Tree - ©ingridtaylar

Mallard Drake preening

Post-Meal Preen - ©ingridtaylar

Female Mallard preening

The Calm Before the Next Storm - ©ingridtaylar