Tag Archives: duck

Widgeon flying

American widgeon (Mareca americana) or baldpate species.

 

 

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.

 

Kicking Bull Gallery

 

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.

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Notes:

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.

American widgeon from Roger Tory Peterson.

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Filed under American Widgeon, Ducks

Typing duck in flight part 2: the takeoff

The unidentified duck in the photograph below takes off.  Upon a clue from Bill Lattrell who loves wild places (see his Wild Ramblings blog), the duck may be a Redhead (Aythya americana).  Field marks from Peterson’s include the male that is gray with a black chest and round red-brown head; the bill blue with black tip.  Both sexes have gray wing-stripes.  I have one additional photograph of the duck as it took off from the pond.

 

Tentatively a Redhead duck in takeoff from pond (February 2011).

The other aspect that may be a factor in identifying the duck as Redhead is that they patter along the surface while getting underway.  From the photograph above, you can see the traces of a patter?  It all happened so fast when the duck took flight that I could only snap two pictures.  (There is a camera feature to take rapid sequential shots that I should turned on.)  The other photograph is in a previous post yesterday.  It is the same duck.

In any case, if any of you have an opinion about the duck above, please comment or write me at matthewsranch@msn.com.  Duck feedback anyone?

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Filed under Canvasback, Redhead Duck

Typing duck in flight

Since so much of our ranch is a Texas Cross Timbers habitat with one large pond, I find ducks most interesting since they have uncommon presence and seasonally come and go.  I do not know with graceful skill the typing of these water creatures.  I tentatively identify the duck below as Canvasback (Aythya valisineria).  Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds states, “A very white-looking duck with a rusty-red head and neck, black breast, long blackish bill.”  I am not sure and will correct my identification if anyone can discern factors I have missed.  In any case, here is what I regard as a Canvasback.  Please let me know in the comment section of this post or e-mail me at matthewsranch@msn.com or tweet @sage2m if you have an opinion.  Thanks for your help and assistance.

March 17, 2011, 1:00 p.m., CDT.  Wild Bill of Wild Ramblings blog has opined it may be a redhead duck.  The short bill of this duck indicates something other than a Canvasback.

Tentatively a Canvasback.

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Filed under Canvasback, Ducks

When Will Duck and Heron Return to the Pond?

Flying Hat Stock Pond

[Originally published on October 12, 2009.  This post has been updated to include commentary for the summer of 2010.]

The photograph above is our stock pond or cow tank that you read a lot about on my blog.  It is about fifteen-feet deep, but you can see from the photograph that it is down by three feet or so.  That’s not unusual.  The horses will wallow at one end of the tank, about where the camera is.

When will the ducks come to the pond this year?  Last year the first ducks arrived during October when there was a freeze line back up north of Mingus.

What will be the date of the first arrival this year?  I would like to build a duck blind so I can take photographs.

Sometimes ducks come during the summer and warm weather.  I think they must come from some of the large lakes around here like those on Celebrity Ranch and Possum Kingdom.

I would like to type the ducks and take photographs of them and post on the blog.

The health of wildlife is measured many ways.  One of the best ways is by a field count.  My field count is not graphed on paper, but daily observations occur.

I have seen no ducks for several months on the pond, not even the resident ducks that may stay year round at Celebrity or Possum Kingdom.

Just as important, I have not seen the Blue Herons alight on the south side of the pond for several weeks.

The health of the waterfowl on Flying Hat Ranch is unknown.  They are gone for the summer or have relocated.  I presume the Blue Heron will return.  I shall post about them when they browse in the pond.

The health of wildlife?  None are present for a field count.

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Filed under Ducks, Flying Hat Ranch