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)…
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…
This is a Hermit Thrush. They can be seen throughout the entire US, breeding up in the Northeast and Midwest continuing up into Canada, then migrating through central US and then wintering in the southern states into Mexico.
They are similar to other brown thrushes, but with its rusty colored tail you can easily identify it. Often seen foraging on the ground looking for insects.
I have startled many of these birds over the years and they always make me laugh. They were foraging on the ground and then they’ll fly up to a low branch when they hear me and just stay there and stare me down! Too funny!!!
At the State Park I saw a few birds and very few people. I kept my mask on, I’ve been staying away from people, stores, restaurants, etc…. since March and I’m not going to let my guard down and catch the virus now!!!
That being said, getting outside in nature and breathing the fresh air is something I need for my mental health, so I try to make safe birding a priority…
Here are a couple of birds that I saw…
This is the Tricolored Heron. You usually only see one foraging alone in coastal lagoons, but when they nest, they are often in very large colonies with various other herons and egrets.
Try to guess this next photo, which Plover do you think this one is?
It’s the Semipalmated Plover. Semipalmated means to have toes that are joined only part way down with a web.
In the photo above, I tried to show its foot, but it’s a bit muddy so it’s hard to see that it is partially webbed.
They breed mostly on gravel bars along rivers or ponds instead of the tundra habitat that most other shorebirds choose.