Early Season Ducks

Ducks are migrating into and through my area now. The numbers seem a bit lower than usual but it has been an exceptionally warm autumn. Maybe they are in no hurry to travel since nothing has started to freeze yet. These are some photographs of freshwater ducks that I have observed recently.

The most numerous of the migrants are Ruddy Ducks. The males have lost their ruddy color at this point in the season though. They are small ducks with a fairly heavy bill. They winter as close to me as the south coast of New England. Maybe we will see them well into the winter if stays warm. Females and immature males have a brownish streak across their cheeks.

Males don’t have the streak. This male is displaying the stiff tail that these ducks often stick up.

The numbers of Common Merganser are still low. A group of females got close enough for a photo. They have a slender serrated bill for grabbing and holding fish. The females have a small crest for a swept-back “hair style”. These ducks winter here so we will see them often.

There were a few Ring-necked Ducks mixed in the Ruddy Ducks. You might think that they would be “Ring-billed”, not “Ring-necked”. They do have a very hard to see chestnut ring around the neck and early biologists named them using the dead specimens that they collected. But still, look at the ring on the bill! They winter further south.

Buffleheads spend the winter in the US, including in my area. They breed in northern Canada and Alaska. They are a small diving duck with a large head. They tend to bob on the water and look like a toy duck. The dark area on the male’s head has green and purple highlights in the right lighting. The females have a white cheek patch.

There are sea ducks moving in as well. I hope to get some photographs soon. There’s a nor’easter coming in this week. That may move everything closer to shore.

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