By the analysis of Jay Miles of Wells, Maine, the featured duck in the last two posts is an American widgeon (Marcea americana) or baldpate species. Several months ago I posted “Gray Sky with Duck,” concerning nine ducks I scared from our pond when I drove down the pasture road after feeding the horses and scattering corn in the grove for deer. After reading my post, Jay commented that he would help in identification of ducks. I looked at his Kicking Bull Gallery website and he knows ducks! He sculpts ducks, he sells vintage and antique duck decoys. He has five lists (each list is several pages) of duck decoys on his website of “Antique old vintage decoys, hunting decoys used in old times past to hunt ducks in the marshes and the sea.” Jay has his ducks in a row.
I wrote Jay an e-mail several days ago asking for his opinion since I was wallowing around in factoring duck morphology. I may know cacti and sagebrush, but I don’t know ducks. Jay responded this morning by e-mail. By this time next year, I will be a bit more versed in duck identification.
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Roger Tory Peterson writes in A Field Guide to Western Birds that the female American widgeon voices qua-ack. I noted this two-part voice pattern many times before as I stood out of sight near the pond’s embankment. I often thought that the duck had been bumped into by other browsers, eliciting a two-part sound of frustration. No, that wasn’t the case despite my attempt at personification. The widgeon winters from southern Alaska to Central America. Its habitat is in fresh marshes, irrigated land, ponds, lakes and bays. Some widgeons, we now know, winter or pass by north Erath County, Texas, and spend time on the Flying Hat pond.
An interesting nexus emerged in my previous posts asking for assistance in identification. Bill of Wild Ramblings opined, so did Laura of A Number of Things, Caralee of Built by Hand Strawbale Housing and Jay Miles of Kicking Bull Gallery. Bill hails from Massachusetts, Jay is from Maine, Laura of London and Caralee of Utah. The five of us that took an interest in the duck are attuned to nature. Caralee added her observations about the difficulty of typing birds in flight — she is working on typing hawks that swoop down upon her. I opened Peterson to pages about duck profiles in flight, something I had never done before. Bill added the difficulty in typing waterfowl and steered me away from it being a Canvasback because of the beak feature. Laura apologized for not identifying, but pointed out that the title of the post, “Typing duck in flight,” made her think of a duck carrying a typewriter while in flight! I find it fascinating that a digital photo of duck taking flight from a Texas pond could provoke a response from Utah to New England to London. We are all curious about birds, and, moreover, the infinite wildness of the natural world.
The Kicking Bull Gallery logo is from Jay Miles website.
Photograph of American widgeon in flight is J. Matthews, March 2011, Mingus, Texas.
Illustrations are from Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to Western Birds, second edition, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969.
- Typing duck in flight part 2: the takeoff (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Typing duck in flight (swamericana.wordpress.com)
- Duck protester shot (heraldsun.com.au)
- Mystery bird: canvasback, Aythya valisineria (guardian.co.uk)