Duck Duck No Luck

It’s a new month which means the blog count has been moved back to zero and that number just makes me look lazy.  So, here we are with the first post for March.   My brother is busy harvesting birds for his life list and putting some serious pressure on me to keep doing the same to mine.  The last couple of posts have been more of an “update cycle” allowing me to replace some crappy pictures that were used for the initial load of the list but a tad embarrassing on the photography skills front.  This post is a little of the same improvement process, but there is a new duck here that I have been unable to identify that may turn out to be a new entry – if anyone can help me with that task.  We’ll get to that in a bit, but first let’s get the image improvement part out of the way.

Denver Bufflehead

These shots were taken in Denver on our way back from Yellowstone.  To be honest I had forgotten all about this shoot until they were popped off the queue in the digital darkroom.  As mentioned, this is not a new bird, but at least now you can actually see what these ducks look like – the other posting taken out in Yellowstone were pretty poor due to the distance (link here).  They also didn’t show the pretty iridescence these ducks possess which can be clearly seen in these shots.  This particular specimen was just wandering around in some fairly nasty green water that ended up providing a beautiful backdrop once the Beast softened it up.  The bright coloring and stark contrast with the white markings classify this one as a breeding male.

Denver Bufflehead

For the record, these two shots are some of my favorite overall duck shots and looking forward to seeing how they look in full print.  Hoping the coloring in the head is maintained through the printing process.  A few quick facts for my loyal readers.  These ducks pretty much call all of North America home.  Wintering in the Americas and breeding (as in Summering in Canada).  Unlike a lot of the ducks I’ve researched, the Bufflehead actually nest out of the water in tree cavities – per Cornell’s site this mainly includes old Flicker and Pileated Woodpecker holes).  They are the smallest of the North American diving ducks (and thus their ability to use the small Flicker cavities).  The are monogamous and they have a Conservation Status of Least Concern (crowd goes wild).  Not a whole lot more on these flamboyant ducks, so will move onto the second featured duck….

Hit the jump to see the second featured duck of the post

Denver Duck - Not Sure What

It may be difficult to tell from the reduced size of the images I use for blogging that this particular shot is one of my sharpest outputs I’ve been able to put in the tin – every little feather is crisped up nicely (feel free to head over to the Smugmug Gallery – EddieSoft.smugmug.com).  I also really like the composition in the shot above with the greenery giving the ey directional focus to the duck’s head.  The main problem is .. I have been unable to figure out what kind of duck this is.  My guess is a female at the moment due to the subdued coloring but totally open for debate.

Then there is this duck which was taken at nearly the same time.  In the darkroom, the consensus was that these two ducks are the same species.  Looking at it closely again here, not so sure about this.  The eye in this one is pretty dramatic compared to the head on shot above, but the bluing in the bill with the two tone coloring between the sides and the back are pretty close.

Denver Duck - Not Sure What

I’ve looked and looked across the references for something similar but nothing sticks out.  If you have any ideas, please let me know – especially if it gives me another check mark in the bird list (yeah!).  In the meantime, I’ll continue thumbing through the reference books and hitting up Google images for a match.

Time to go watch Rizzi do an agility run.  Catch you again soon assuming we make it back from the out of town dog show.  Snow was piling up last night and continuing through this morning making it a pain to make the trek over here – still snowing outside so the route home should be equally intense but Linda has promised me a special birding treat on the way home if I behave .

2 thoughts on “Duck Duck No Luck”

  1. You, sir, are the proud photographer of a Ferruginous Duck! That’s the last shot in this post (look it up on Google images!). Their range only spans southern and eastern Europe and southern and western Asia, which is why you didn’t find it in your North American bird references. They are somewhat migratory, and winter farther south and into north Africa. The adult male is a rich chestnut colour with a darker back and a yellow eye. And somehow you got one.

    Why am I so sure? After all, you took this shot in Denver. HOWEVER, the Denver Zoological Gardens lists this bird among its reported species: http://www.globalspecies.org/zooinsts/display/6959 . So an import, it appears.

    And that looks like a female Ferruginous Duck in the second-to-last shot. The females have dark eyes and the dark back that you see in your shot.

    Kudos to you! I don’t think I’ll be getting any of these in near future…

    Ron

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  2. SCORE!!! Thanks for researching that, it is a dead on match for a Ferruginous Duck and as you pointed out, an import of such which is why my continued flipping through the NA manuals resulted in zero hits. I did take it in Denver but actually thought it was at the Botanical Gardens since that is where most of my shots are – will have to go back and see if it was at the Zoological Gardens although I do remember going there but that a looooong time ago as compared to just two years back (5/2013). Big thanks again – these will good on my Birding Life List! Note the female is tack sharp so no (as you mentioned) I can enter it into contests and give it a better title than just “Duck”! I need to dig into your unidentified and return the favor.

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