Many birders find it difficult to identify which Scaup they see. You really do have to get a good look at the bird before you can say for sure just which one it is!
The other day while I was at the wildlife refugee, my husband spotted a flock of Scaups in a small pond. I got out of the car some distance away as to not scare them off.
I walked a few steps and took some photos, then a few steps more, then more photos…
There was one group of about 20 and then a separate group of 4. I made sure to get photos of both groups.
Here is what I saw.
These are Greater Scaups. They were in the smaller group, swimming off to the side of the bigger group. Luckily I was able to get these photos, so that I could do my “homework” and study them on my computer when I got home.
Take a good look at their heads, that is where you’ll find the best way to identify the Scaups. The Greater Scaup has a more rounded head with the higher point in the front. The Lesser Scaup’s highest point of its head is toward the back.
Here are a few Lesser Scaups.
Do you see the difference? Sometimes its hard to get a good look at them when you’re out walking, that’s why I take the photos.
Here are a few water birds that I’ve seen lately. I’m very lucky to live on a lake, so that I can see these birds!
This is the male Hooded Merganser. Mergansers are the only US ducks that specialize in eating fish. They forage by diving and swimming underwater. Fish is found by sight, their eyes are adapted for good underwater vision.
This Great Blue Heron is also looking for fish. They usually forage by standing still or walking slowly in the shallow water, when a fish swims near, they strike them with their bill. I’ve seen them eat some very big fish and it amazes me how they manage to swallow them without choking!
The Canada Goose can be found throughout all of the US and Canada. Years ago they used to migrate, but now many geese remain as permanent residents to their area.
Their diet consists almost entirely on plant material. They “honk” or talk to each other in their flocks. I usually hear them honking when they are about to fly off to another area, sometimes I hear them honking in the middle of the night (for no good reason at all except to wake me up)…
I went to one of my usual spots for birding recently. It is amazing how I can be there for 4 hours and not see a single person!
I ended up finding 4 more bird species that I hadn’t seen yet this year. A few of them I haven’t see but one other time in the past 10 years!
Not the greatest photo, but this is actually the Brown Creeper. Cute little bird, they creep up tree trunks and limbs instead of down… They are camouflaged and look a lot like the trees that they are on, so they can be difficult to find.
This is a Merlin. It’s a rather small falcon. They feed mostly on small birds, probably why I didn’t see any other birds in the area where I found this one…
Here are a couple of Turkey Vultures. They can be found throughout all of the US.
Most birds are thought to have a very poor sense of smell, but the Turkey Vulture is definitely an exception to that. They can find roadkill by the odor. I am quite thankful for them (even though they are not the cutest bird in the world), they certainly do a fantastic job at cleaning up the roads!!!
Here are a few more birds that I’ve seen lately in my backyard…
This is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Even though most of the time it is difficult to see the red on their bellies and they clearly have a red on their heads (my guess is that the Red-headed Woodpecker was named first, so that when this one was found they had to come up with something else…)
This one eats the seeds most of the time, but occasionally the suet too.
This male Pine Warbler loves the suet and shows up almost everyday!
The male Eastern Bluebird loves the suet too! He comes almost everyday too, with a female and a juvenile (probably one from its last brood). They usually have 2 broods a year, but sometimes 3, I’m pretty sure the ones that nested in my yard had 3 broods this year.
We’ve had a few cooler days here lately, not really cold, but cold enough for the birds around here. The birds have been eating a lot maybe because they know that it is supposed to get even colder in a few more days???
Today was rainy and all the birds were at the feeders getting wet until a hawk came by, then they all flew away!
Here are a few birds that have been visiting my feeders lately…
Here is the Downy Woodpecker. I see a pair of them everyday, a male and a female. The male has a red patch on the back of his head. They really do love the suet.
This is the Carolina Wren. For such a little bird they certainly can be very loud! They will perch on my back deck and sing early in the mornings…
This is the White-throated Sparrow. They can be found mostly foraging on the ground. They like to stay under the feeders, eating the seeds that fall to the ground.
This is the hawk that keeps coming around my bird feeders when the birds are trying to eat! I’m not 100% sure which hawk it is, it’s either the Sharp-shinned Hawk or the Cooper’s Hawk. I haven’t gotten a great look at the tail yet, the Sharp-shinned is straight across, while the Cooper’s is rounded. They are close to the same size and look very similar, so I haven’t made the “call” yet, but it keeps zipping in and out of my backyard, so I’m sure one of these days I’ll catch a good look at it…
The other day while I was looking out back at my feeders, I saw a duck landing in the water nearby. It was only there for a couple of minutes before it got spooked by a couple of Double-crested Cormorants.
It was the Ring-necked Duck. I hadn’t seen one yet for the year. I took a couple of photos of it before it took off. (Luckily I had my camera nearby).
They breed up in Canada and will winter in Southern US and into Mexico. Their diet consists mostly of aquatic plants and insects.
Usually they will forage by diving around in the shallow water.
Though they are named the Ring-necked Duck, the ring on their neck is hardly ever visible.
A couple of days after I saw this one show up, a flock of about 50+ appeared and have been foraging in the shallow water across the lake every morning since.
The male Eastern Bluebird is really a beautiful bird… I’ve been seeing a few of them at my feeders this winter.
They don’t seem to eat any of the seeds, but they love the suet. During breeding season they can be seen throughout the east coast over to central US. In the winter they usually migrate to the southern states.
This year though my brother has seen them up in New England. Not sure if the Bluebird knows that maybe it is going to be a mild winter up north and that is why some of them didn’t migrate south???
Off to the Wildlife Refuge again, this time we decided to take a long walk instead of driving, stopping, birding, driving, stopping, birding…
While we were hiking the 2 mile loop around a large swamp I heard a flock of birds off in the wetlands across from the swamp.
At first I thought it was a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, but after watching them for a while as they moved through the wet woods, I realized that there was no red on their wings…
I know it’s a tough photo, but that is a non breeding, adult male Rusty Blackbird. They breed throughout Canada up into Alaska.
They got their name for their fall coloring of rusty feathers and not from their calls which sound like a squeaky rusty gate…
The other bird I saw was a Northern Bobwhite. I had heard a rustling in the brush near me as I stood next to a cut down cornfield. I moved around trying to get a better look, only to sneak a peek or a female Bobwhite just before she flew off.
So now I am up to 102 species for the year and counting…