The Tale of The Three Amigos

I remember the first time I saw him. I love seeing the ducks at Haddon Lake, but he was unique. Not only was his plumage all black, but he had a little puff of feathers on his head.

And he didn’t really seem to associate with the others. He spent his time swimming around nearby the Mallards but usually by himself. (Just a note: I have no clue the gender of this duck, but for this story I will refer to it as a male)

Turns out this duck was somewhat of a local celebrity. Dave and I affectionately  referred to him as “Puff Duck” or “Puffy”, but everyone had a name for him (I also called him a “fancy duck”, which my friend Maria still finds hilarious). My favorite was when two guys we walked by called him “the duck with the mohawk” 🙂

So where did this duck come from and why did he have a “puff” on his head? His origins are uncertain, but it’s possible that he was somebody’s pet Crested Duck. There was an answer to the “puff” mystery though. Crested Ducks have a genetic mutation where there is a gap in their skulls. Fatty tissues covers the gap and feathers grow over it in a “puff” shape. The size and shape of the “puff” varies by individual.

One day Puffy was not alone. We observed him swimming with a white duck who was not crested. After that, Puffy and his friend were inseparable. They would swim, eat, and rest next to each other all day, every time we went to the park (which was almost daily for us at this point). I was glad that Puffy had a friend to spend his days with.

Puff Duck and his friend (Image by BirdNation)
Best Friends (Image by BirdNation)

Then one day a third duck started hanging out with Puffy and Friend. This third duck was light brown and also was Crested. From that day forward they would be known as The Three Amigos.

What an adorable sight: a black Crested duck, a brown Crested duck, and a white duck swimming around together like they were best friends. It didn’t matter that they physically looked different than the Mallards. The trio was unique, and they had each other for company. They were so perfect together. I always enjoyed watching them swim in a line across the lake or sitting around preening. The Three Amigos stayed as a trio for a few months. (I thought I had a picture of the trio to show you, but I am not able to locate at this time)

So where are The Three Amigos now? Unfortunately all good things must come to an end at some point. Light brown duck was the first to disappear. Eventually Puffy and the white duck parted ways. Puffy would be seen hanging out with random ducks or by himself occasionally. My last sighting of Puffy was April 1, 2015 (picture below). Maybe he flew away or died. Puff Duck lived at the lake about a year or two before he met the Amigos, so I have a lot of fond memories of him. There are a few white Crested Ducks who reside at Haddon Lake now, but nobody as special as Puffy.

Sometimes nature is full of wonderful surprises. The fact that we were able to enjoy Puffy and his two special friends is a blessing that I was lucky to receive. Seeing those 3 ducks together made me feel like all was right in the world and made me appreciate how beautiful nature can be. The Three Amigos will always live in on my memories.

Last day with Puffy (Image by BirdNation)


Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I primarily go birding in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but love to travel. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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