Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Help Identifying A Duck

I was at a local pond on a recent early morning because I knew Wood Ducks were present in large numbers. True to form, at one point I counted thirty within sight of where I stood. We all know "you have to make hay while the sun shines," and this time of year is the best chance to see large numbers of this duck species.

While ducks were coming and going, I took the above photo of what I thought at the time was a female Wood Duck. When I am taking photos — and I can't speak for anyone else — I am too busy tracking the bird and trying to nail focus to stop and study the subject in much detail. "Shoot first and ask questions later," is my motto.

Afterward, I realized the duck had no eye ring like a female Wood Duck, but neither could I identify it as any duck I had ever seen before. What to do?

When I got home, I went to the American Birding Association website where people can post news about birds they have seen. I posted a message asking if any of the members could identify the duck I had seen earlier in the day. I tried to post a photo with the message, but it wouldn't work, so I posted the picture to my blog along with a couple others and gave the address so people could go there to see the bird.

People are amazing! Within minutes, I received several emails identifying the bird and the reasons why people thought it was that particular bird.

Most people agreed it was a Hooded Merganser. I had seen Hooded Mergansers numerous times over the winter at two other ponds very close to this pond, but never at this pond. I don't know if there was a change in plumage since the winter months, but those females looked very different to me. The female is on the right and her mate is on the left in this photo.

The nice thing about the blog site I use is that you can view a report of activity for a specific post. I was amazed to find that 268 people had viewed the photos of the unidentified duck in the day since! Plus, there was a total of 360 page views for the day, so some people must have also looked at other pages. That is much higher traffic than I have ever gotten from my blog. I would just like to thank all those who helped me identify this duck.

To see the other photos of the duck, see the blog entry entitled, "Unidentified Duck." The American Birding Association site is: ABA's Birding News >> Maryland - DC. To see news about local bird sightings, go to:

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