Ducks and the Cold

They say “Nice weather for ducks” when it rains but ducks seem to be pretty impervious to the cold as well. Several of us went out on a frigid morning in search of a rare duck for this area. It was 23F (-5C), windy and cloudy. But we did find the duck. And lots of other ducks. I went went back out solo the next day when it was sunny so I could get some more photos in better light. The wind had died down but it was 15F (-9C). These are the days I have took at my hand to see where it is on the camera since I can’t feel anything with my fingers, including the shutter! The gloves I wear are usually fine but even they can’t fend off this level of cold. The ducks, on the other hand, are only bothered by the ice that forms on the lakes and ponds. They happily swim, dabble and dive regardless of the temperature as long as they have some open water.

I took a lot of pictures so this will be a two part post. This post will feature the rare duck we successfully pursued. Common Goldeneye are, well, common to our area in the winter. There is a second species, Barrow’s Goldeneye, that is very uncommon here. The ones we found were the first that I had ever seen. This is a male Common Goldeneye with white sides and an oval cheek patch. And the gold eye of course!

The Barrow’s Goldeneye is a bit smaller and has a crescent cheek patch. It’s back and sides have more black on them and the back has a row of white spots.

This is both types swimming together.

The females are harder to distinguish. This is a female Common Goldeneye that I photographed as she scooted along the surface.

The distinguishing mark on the female Barrow’s Goldeneye is the yellow ring at the tip of the beak.

The next post will have lots of other fresh water ducks that we observed on those frigid mornings.

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