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Re: Duck ID Request

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  • Kevin
    Dan and Dan, Thanks for the input. I looked at Masked Duck images on the web. Attractive animal. However the eye stripe there is too distinctive even on the
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 8, 2011
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      Dan and Dan,

      Thanks for the input. I looked at Masked Duck images on the web. Attractive animal. However the eye stripe there is too distinctive even on the immatures/winter birds, or at least most of the images on line. I can see 1 or 2 images that could be this duck but I think I'm stretching it. Even if I thought it was this species, I'd have to be sure the line went through the eye and that's something I didn't record in writing but I'm fairly sure the dark line did not go through the eye.

      As for being a grebe, it definately wasn't. Saw lots of grebes on this trip and it wasn't grebe shape in any way. Definately a duck. Your comment about size is interesting as the bird was smaller than the coot but the margin wasn't that great. The duck was in front of the coot which also should make the duck seem slightly larger but it was smaller. But by what margin I couldn't say. Maybe 80-85% the size of a coot?

      So the stripes were slighly less prominant than the Masked Duck but more prominant than I see on images of Ruddy Duck. I also watched the bird for some time and it never showed the stiff tail. I've seen Ruddy Ducks that don't do that and many of the photos show the tail down. If the erect tail is a display sign then this bird might not be doing it as it was the lone duck on this pond. A Badger was at its hole opening about 1 km before this pond and as I was parked watching this duck, a red fox crossed in front of me and started to walk along the side of the pond. So predators might explain why it was a lone duck. :-)

      Unless others have suggestions I'll remain conservative and say it was a Ruddy with slightly more obvious cheek marks than most.


      I'll remain conservative as I used to know a birder who was excellent, has published field trip guides, yet if he saw something odd like this then he would always lean to the extreme. If it was potential hybrid/colour variation or a potential old world or Asian migrant well out of its range - for him it was always the latter. In the long run it likely did him well. For while he wouldn't be right, or verified, most of the time, ever now and then he'd be right and it would be an unusual species. Of course the other side of the coin is that he knew non-American species ID marks so well that he might see things that those of us who don't review exotic field guides might miss.

      --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "Kevin" <kmscouts@...> wrote:
      > Did a quick and too much driving trip from Regina to Hazlet through Great Sand Hills into west block of Cypress Hills and home - made for a long weekend. Some great weather but oddly not great birding. Damn juveniles. More later.
      > Crossing throught Great Sand Hills I saw a small duck that look reddish. My first thought was Cinnamon Teal but as I got closer and my binos on it - it wasn't really red. Brownish but when the light hit it a certain way...
      > But small. Smaller than the coot near it but about 1.5-2x larger than the coot babies. So teal size.
      > A diving duck.
      > Might have had black wing tips (end feathers) but they were always in the water. I only saw them when it was grooming. Looked like it had a white under rump.
      > What was most striking were the striped cheeks. Looked like a black streak across light cheeks causing a light, dark light stripes. The light was almost ochre in colour. The upper light stripe was the largest of the three. THe best way to describe it is to think of a movie stereotyical Indian warrior or some jungle guerilla soldier about to go into battle and they smeared one black streak across both cheeks. That's what this looked like. I had Peterson and Stokes guides with me and neither of them had anything like this. At home my Audubon Master Guide has a picture of a Ruddy Duck with a light streak across the cheek. A Ruddy would match the size and diving. But the body shape wasn't a ruddy and it never showed the tail up - although the picture in the Master Guide shows the winter male with the tail in the water. If this was a ruddy then his tail was never upright.
      > Okay I'm going to call this a Ruddy. In writing this email I just read the text in the Master guide and have answered my own question I think. The Master guide text says "the cheek is a duller off-white, crossed below the eye by a horizontal dark line that cna be vague in some birds..."
      > So I should delete this email but I think I'll still send it in case any one has other suggestions.
      > Kevin in Lumsden.
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