Marvil Comics’ “X” Duck

The bones are starting to creak and the nose is turning red, we must be headed into the tundra we call home. We made our final stop in Marion, AR yesterday to perform the RV winterization ritual in the closing hours before we officially hit sub-freezing temps. Asked Linda several times during this process if she wanted to turn back and flee south again…with great agony so reminded me we have important appointments awaiting us throughout February, sigh. On the good news front, I can update you on my Average Year efforts. With a few days still left in this month I’ve clocked in 173 unique birds for the young year (Ron at healthy 152). Quite stunned by that and can be directly attributed to how wonderful birding is in Texas. I’ll be turning my err… Linda’s sights on getting the Snowy Owl (link here) immediately upon our return.

Right now I have to focus on hitting my self-imposed post quota for this month. Once again, I’ve overestimated the amount of free time available on our vacation. Amazing how we manage to fill up an entire month with activities (read birding sunrise to sundown). Was able to get five out there during the longer drives leaving me with today’s featured feathered friend for the win.

Redhead Duck found at South Padre Bird Viewing Center in December 2017

Okay birders, without hitting the jump, want to take a guess on what this duck is?

Hit the jump for further clues.

Continue reading Marvil Comics’ “X” Duck

A Noncommittal Diver

Happy 4th of July everyone!  Hopefully you live in a state that trusts it’s serfs to know how to handle fire and thus can enjoy the holiday as it was meant to be – as opposed to some of us who are subject to state administrations that is more worried about someone lighting a firecracker than they are passing a budget that keeps the state out of debt — but I digress.  In celebration of our independence from an oppressive government (hmmm starting to sound ironically familiar)… I bring you another great find at the Henderson Nevada Wildlife Viewing Preserve.  This bird immediately brings to mind all the festive colors we typically associate with our proud country.

Ummm okay, maybe not.  Actually it doesn’t even seem to be that well associated to Independence Day now that I take another gander at it.  Well, it sounded good anyway (editor’s note, for the record, it does look like it is “independent” in the since that it is alone – that way if I was for some reason to be called in front of a Congressional hearing I can say I was telling the truth unlike the Head of Intelligence who conveniently claims he “forgot” about the Patriot Act as his excuse for lying under oath – sorry, more digression).  So, you are probably thinking this specimen is a Redhead Duck because that is exactly what I thought it was when I came up on it enjoying one of the ponds.  It wasn’t until a few minutes ago that I realized that initial assumption was wrong.  Based on validation with all my references, I have changed my classification to … a Canvasback.  The Redhead and the Canvasback have almost identical color schemes – brownish heads and black highlighting at the same locations, but they differ in  few key areas.  First of all, the Redhead has a body feathering that is more gray contrasted with the Canvasback which has a much brighter/whiter coloring.  A closer look at the beak also show differences with the Canvasback being pointier and darker instead of the blunter and more stylized bill sported by the other duck.  They do have nearly identical region maps, but based on the other factors my money is on a Canvasback.  For the detailed oriented people out there, the Canvasback is about 2 inches longer and a little larger weight wise, but that is impossible to distinguish in the field.

Hit the jump read more about the Canvasback!

Continue reading A Noncommittal Diver