Friday, February 22, 2013

Long-tailed Duck

In a recent post, I related some of the methods or cues I use to spot bird species I may not have seen before. One was the Long-tailed Duck, four of which were flying by even as I reached the end of the dock. The name of the species was changed in recent times. I suspect the old name was not PC and that is why it was changed. The former name - oldsquaw - I thought was much more imaginative. I mean, why not just call it white-headed duck with brown body. By the way, the ducks pictured in that post with the long tails are all males.  Females don't have the extended tail.

After I got positioned that morning - and let me just mention one other thing that may be helpful. I don't wait until I get to the place I am going to set up my camera before setting up my camera.  What I mean is, I turn the camera on while I am still at the car, check and change any settings I think need to be changed based on current conditions, put the camera on the tripod and carry the whole rig to the spot.  The reason being, if you see something as soon as you arrive, you are all ready to start filming immediately. And, yes, I realize the term "filming" is almost passé, but it sounds so much better than saying, "ready to start digitizing immediately." (I think maybe I have had too much coffee this morning.)

After I got into position that morning - and let me just say also, I check to make sure I have storage medium in place and that the card has been cleared of previous images. My attention was almost immediately drawn to a white-headed duck with a brown body, something I hadn't seen before. It turned out to be a female long-tailed duck. This is probably a first-fall bird because females this time of year generally have a lot more white on their bodies. Males have a pink band of color across their bills. They nest in the far northern territories of Canada as well as Alaska and the arctic.

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