Just so I don’t forget to mention this like I did in the last post, the following topic is another product from our Henderson Nevada Bird Viewing Preserve shoot we went on towards the end of last year. Another difference from last post is this one is not as picture scarce. Oh, and indeed there is another major difference but we’ll get to that in a second. With that lead in out of the way, please give a grand welcome to yet another new bird to the blog.
Want to take a shot as to what it is? Hint, it is NOT what I had mistaken it for while out in the field. For some reason I crossed this particular duck up with the Dufflebag, Well, it really isn’t a Dufflebag, but that is what I’ve always called the Bufflehead. Ever have one of those bizarre associations that popped in your head at the second it entered long term memory? No matter how hard you try it just never gets corrected in the gray matter so EVERY time you see it, that is the first thing your brain’s Google engine conjures up. Not knowing at the time that this was a wrong identification, I snapped a few and went on my merry way. This classification error was discovered while hunting down the reference material to post on the blog. Our friend the Dufflebag has the white markings shifted up to the 4th quadrant.. and has a completely different body feather palette, but let’s not get nitpicky.
No worries, this pattern is pretty unique so a few more minutes in the duck reference should clear this mystery right up. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes … later and I’m asking myself what the hell is this bird. Eventually, the Stokes’ guide came through. The problem is, the bird that caught my attention is not a male. Nope, everyone one of the shots in this post are of the female which, for the record, are traditionally harder to identify than the normally more colorful males. The fact these females have a unique coloring threw me off.
Hit the jump to see more pictures of this duck and maybe even confirm your guess as to what it is
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I’ll tell you right up front, this particular blog post is going to cheat you a bit on your viewing pleasure. Normally I try my best to give a healthy dose of pictures with each of my offerings. When it comes to birds the goal is to give you a variety of poses or angles that help provide a good perspective of the featured species just in case you happen to live in one of those obnoxiously big cities and think birds just get in the view of the pretty skyscrapers. Today.. not so much. To be honest, I cannot recall what the issue was, but there was really only two picture taken of this bird – surprising since this was another NEW bird to check off the list.
The only hope is there are more shots of the Northern Pintail from the second day of shooting – which hasn’t been processed yet. If I find more while in the digital darkroom for the those I’ll be sure and post them to make up for the sparsity here. There is a correction for the long term readers of this blog. Back on June 5th 2010 I suggested one of the bird shots on that post was a Pintail (although skeptical even then – link here). Clearly it didn’t possess the twin tails of real Pintails as clearly seen in these shots.
This day began in one of those “Small World” experiences. It was a little cool that day so I was sporting my Illini pullover. While walking up to the entrance of the Preserve, a man came out and noticed the coat and asked me if I had gone to Illinois. Always seems surreal to head out thousands of miles from home and then come across someone that lives a few hundred miles from your hometown. He actually was the individual who alerted us to the presence of the Pintail. Based on his excitement at the time it appears that was not a common sighting on the ponds. A quick look at the regions indicates they do Winter there in that region, but since this was August that does seem pretty early. From an artistic perspective, I find the color palette on these ducks to be gorgeous which is only enhanced by the sleek profile. In case you are wondering, these two are both males.
How about some interesting facts to complete the post. First off they are very abundant and therefore have a conservation status of Least Concern – follow up research indicates they are in a large decline so this may actually change in the future (sad). They also happen to be a very popular game duck due to (and I quote Wikipedia) “speed, agility, and excellent eating qualities”. Hey, look ad that purdy eyegil burrd leck’s put led in itz ass. They are classed as dabbling ducks or simply those ducks that feed off the water’s surface instead of diving. They are primarily plant eating animals with the exception of when the female is nesting. During that time, it changes to invertebrates likes insects – wonder if that is similar to us humans which tend to switch to ice cream and pickle juice during our “nesting” period. Interesting.. another site indicates they are the first ducks to begin their Winter migration. I think we can personally confirm that now! And lastly, the ducks organization website indicates that Northern Pintails have a circumpolar breeding pattern. Know what that means? … ‘cuz I have no clue hehehe. Current guess is they only have sex when circling a polar bear. Trust me, I’m an Eggspert on dem der wingy things.
That’s all folks – my apologies again for the lack of pictures – good news is you could read the whole post without a jump.
Admittedly, when things get tight I go to my ace in the hole. Lucky for me, I was able to finish processing all the shots from our first day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. If you recall, on our trip to Nevada last year we stopped in to that gem of a preserve. Per previous posts, this area already provided two blog posts for brand new birds to my collection – specifically, the Green-Winged Teal (link here) and the Greater Roadrunner (link here). Here’s a little secret. Those were not the only two new birds this shoot produced! I was able to add another new check in the bird list with today’s blog entry.
Anyone want to take a guess on what this might be? Really take a guess – a little validation would help me at this point. This little bird took me some extra time to eventually come to a consensus on what it was… or actually what I think it is. To accomplish this I employed my brand new bird reference guide I picked up while out in Yellowstone. While perusing the various gift shops in the park, The Stokes Field Guide To The Birds of North America caught my eye. It isn’t often a book on birds shows up I do not already have, much less ever seen. The key aspect of this particular reference was the ABUNDANCE of pictures. None of the books on my shelves come close to having the quantity of actual photographs contained in this book – in particular the fact it has shots of the female, the male, the juvenile and even seasonal and regional differences. Truly awesome and it was instantly “mine” – didn’t hurt we got a discount being Yellowstone Association members but truth be told I would have gladly paid full price (shhhh don’t tell anyone). After about 40 minutes of thumbing through the book I decided to go with … drum roll .. a Verdin. The only concern was the region but a closer look (need a brush up on my state shapes) shows that it does venture into Southern Nevada. A friend at work (thanks John!) helped me verify the region today so thinking that concern is past me. As with any bird post at Lifeintrigued – you are more than welcome to debate any identification. So for now were going with a Verdin. This bird is especially cool since it doesn’t come anywhere near where I live making the trip that much more fruitful.
According to Stokes, this bird prefers desert scrub along washes and streams. The desert part was dead on and it was alongside one of their ponds which kinda fits the water reference. That is about the sum total of info I got out of the book. Again, that was purchased to help identify the bird, I have our friends over at Wikipedia and an abundance of info on the web to fill the data gap – finding out what the hell it is the real battle. Another site did mention they like thorny scrub – based on the shot above and the one below, this one was right at home.
Hit the jump to read more about this cool looking bird.
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