Posts Tagged ‘ducks’

 

Bird Finder for May 4: Wood Duck

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
Duck,_Wood_RoyMcBrideWood Duck
Aix sponsa

By Mike Aurelia
The male Wood Duck is one of Connecticut’s most colorful puddle ducks. Wood Ducks are more secretive than some other ducks; they like wet, wooded habitats such as swamps, river banks, lakes, and ponds. Large trees with cavities are essential for breeding if people aren’t assisting with nesting boxes.


What it looks like:
The drake is a small to medium sized duck with black, green, white and buff/brown colors and a green crest. The hen is more brown and white with a grayish “helmet” a yellow eye ring and white patch around the eye. If you’re using Cornell Ornithological Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app, insert “size between a crow & goose,” main colors of buff/brown – white and olive/green; and “swimming or wading” to find it.

Where and How to Find It: This time of the year Wood Ducks are found in good nesting habitat. That includes almost all freshwater bodies and wetlands with nearby large trees and adequate cover. To zero in on where the nearest Wood Duck has been seen go to: eBird.org – Explore Data: Species maps function and insert “Wood Duck”; species date: year round current year; location: CT. Then  click on any orange or blue hotspot “drop.” So far this year Wood Ducks have been observed at a hundred or more locations with as many as 60 individuals seen at a single site.

Other interesting facts: Like most puddle ducks, wood ducks are omnivores with  diverse diets including seeds, fruit, aquatic vegetation and both aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Duck, Wood female FGUnlike other waterfowl, the Wood Duck can perch and nest in trees and is designed to fly through wooded habitats. Everyone has probably seen a video showing wood ducklings dropping great distances from a nest hole in a tree. Individual ducklings have been known to jump 89 meters without injury. Abandoned Pileated Woodpecker holes are frequently recycled as Wood Duck nests, as are other tree cavities.

Wood Duck hens often lay some eggs in other Wood Duck nests. This egg dumping is thought to be a strategy that increases the chance of duckling survival. Hens that dump eggs have a regular nest later in the season. Wood ducks frequently have two broods per season.

In Connecticut, Wood Ducks are among the hunted waterfowl. To hunt Wood Duck, one needs a Connecticut small game hunting license, a Connecticut waterfowl stamp and a federal duck stamp. The hunting season is split, running for a couple of weeks in October and restarting in early November and ending in early January. The daily limit is three ducks and possession limit is nine ducks.

Conservation Status: According to Cornell’s “The Birds of North American Online,” Wood Ducks were seriously impacted by market hunting and were close to extinction before the passage of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, in 1918. Subsequently hunting regulations at the state and federal level, and wildlife management practices, have resulted in a remarkable recovery in Connecticut and the rest of the bird’s range. Breeding Bird Surveys and Christmas Bird Count data indicate that populations have increased significantly, and Wood Ducks are now considered to be of least concern by the IUCN.

Photos by Roy McBride (male) and Dick Daniels, Carolinabirds.org.

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Bird Finder for March 3: Green-winged Teal

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
Teal, Green-winged DickDaniels 1 Green-winged Teal
Anas carolinensis

by Nick Bonomo
As the calendar turns to March we will notice a drastic increase in the number and diversity of migrant dabbling ducks in our wetlands, including this tiny species.

What it looks like: Green-winged Teal is our smallest North American duck species with a length of only 14 inches. Males and females are plumaged very differently from one another. The striking males pack a lot of color and pattern into their small package. They show a dark rufous head with a broad green patch behind the eye, a buffy breast specked with dark spots, a gray body with an obvious vertical white bar at the side of the breast, and a beige patch on the side of the tail.

Females are mostly brown with a dark line through the cheek, a faint pale eye ring, and a thick buffy line on the side of the tail.

Both males and females show a green speculum bordered by whitish lines when seen in flight.

Where to find it: This species is found in its greatest numbers in our larger coastal salt marshes. They can be particularly abundant at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center at Milford Point. They can occur in any wetland, inland or coastal, and also may be seen along the open coast or at inland ponds.

Teal,_Green-winged_Bolsa_Chica_Wetlands_NewJerseyBirdsWhen to look: While they may be present anytime between August and May, Green-winged Teal peak in abundance during the month of March, when up to several hundred can be seen at once at places like Milford Point.

Keep an eye out for: If, while looking through a flock of Green-winged Teal this spring, you notice a male with a long horizontal bar down the bird’s side rather than a short vertical bar at the breast side, you have found a “Eurasian” Green-winged Teal. A couple of individuals of this subspecies are usually found every March-April in the state. The two forms hybridize, which would be indicated by a bird that has both a vertical and horizontal stripe. Both the “Eurasian” form and their hybrids are rare in these parts.

Conservation status: From an all-time low of 722,000 birds in 1962, Green-winged Teal populations have grown steadily since. In 2009, they reached an all-time high of 3.4 million (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2009).

Photo of male Green-winged Teal by Dick Daniels; photo of female by New Jersey Birds. Both courtesy of Carolinabirds.org.

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