A sense of scale

Work continues on Project Duck with the addition of some Very Serious Dutch hookbills and a wee family of whio. All ducks also now have name plates, which I think add to the sort of museum-like presentation. Anyway, here’s the whole lot so far:

P1050317

And a close-up of the whio (which still needs some water added to the creek at the front of the base) with a penny for scale, as I suspect many of you have never actually seen what size these are (and especially the tiny, tiny ducklings):

P1050318

The whio is an endangered duck from New Zealand, and are notable for their bluish feathers (they’re often called ‘blue ducks’ in New Zealand) and red markings. I’ve exaggerated the blue a little for this one to make her stand out a little more.

New Zealand, if you’re unaware, has a huge range of birds because until humans arrived about a thousand years ago, birds were the top of the food chain. The only mammals in the country were a couple of species of bat, as well as aquatic mammals like dolphins, whales and seals. As such, birds adapted to fill pretty much every other niche – famously including the now-extinct moa and Haast’s egale. This means that, to this day, there’s a crazy range of birds that don’t seem well adapted to much at all in the modern day – the kakapo is probably the most famous example.

Anyway, the massive variety of birds means that they’re generally pretty popular with the public, and there’s even an annual Bird of the Year competition, which now features smack-talk memes between the various camps that support different birds. I typically back the kea (which is, without a doubt, the coolest bird in the world), but this year the title was stolen by the kereru (a.k.a. wood pigeon), which has the dubious distinction of being famously stupid. In fact, the Guardian’s article announcing the victory even hailed its “drunk, gluttonous” nature.

So, when the competition rolls around next year, do consider the whio for a vote (anyone can vote – you don’t have to be a kiwi!), or perhaps the pateke (brown teal), the papango (New Zealand scaup), or one of the penguins, or really any one of the other options – we have some pretty cool birds.

In other news, we should soon be moving to a larger house, which will mean more space for painting, which will mean faster progress on Project Duck – I aim to have around 20-30 of these done for Duke of Bavaria in April, as well as any communist ducks I can manage for the fantasy category.

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