Another Duck Report

There were several hundred ducks at a large reservoir located near me when I visited it recently. Other than a few Mallards, all of the ducks were wintering diving ducks that visit our ponds and lakes for a few months each year.

Ruddy Ducks are a small, chubby duck with a white cheek and a large bill. Ducks seem to have a perpetual smile due the shape of their bills. Ruddy Ducks have a large bill and thus a big smile.

Common Mergansers have a long narrow bill with saw toothed edges for grasping and holding fish. The females have a swept back crest.

Buffleheads are a small duck that can be seen on the ocean as well as on freshwater bodies of water. They ride high in the water and seem to be bobbing like a toy.

Whenever I post a photo of a Ring-necked Duck, I can’t resist wondering why they aren’t called Ring-billed Ducks.

Hooded Mergansers have a slender bill like the Common Merganser. But the crest looks solid, hence the “hood”. This is a male.

This is a Lesser Scaup, swimming and flying.

My find of the day was this female Redhead. Luckily I got this photo since eBird flagged it as a rarity in the list I submitted. They are listed as uncommon in Peterson’s field guide and are rare in this part of the US.

An adult Bald Eagle appeared on the far side of the reservoir as I was preparing to leave. It was circling around about 2/10ths of a mile (300 meters) away. The primary food of Bald Eagles is fish but they do go after birds and mammals, including ducks. It was fascinating to see this large predator swooping around over a few hundred ducks that seemed to completely ignore it. I have seen an Eagle empty a marsh full of Mallards and Black Ducks just by flying over it. Every duck took the air immediately. And I have watched an Eagle dive onto a Black Duck and fly off with it, so they had good reason to get moving. But these diving ducks merely continued feeding and preening. Maybe they just stay ready to dive if the Eagle does attack and don’t bother to waste energy. I did get this long distance shot of the Eagle diving near some ducks, apparently for a fish in the shallows. The ducks in the foreground didn’t move at all!

There is always something interesting going on around us. We just have to watch for it.

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