Ring-necked Ducks on the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 19, 2015

I stopped at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha, Frame Park, mid morning to see if what was going on. About ~10 Ring-necked Ducks were present. They have been hanging around now for a few days there on the river. These ducks are pretty skittish and never come very close to shore, pedestrians keep them pretty much in the middle of the river. Every once in awhile they drift a little bit to one side or the river or the other diving for food. They dove for food while I was there, then seemed to want to nap. I ran into Dan W. down there and we did a little shooting together for the few minutes of light we had this morning. Other species present appeared to be some Lesser Scaups, ~4 American Coots and a couple of Common Goldeneye were  still hanging around. In the park area there were nice numbers of American Robins. A flock of European Starlings were also making themselves known. Images were taken on March 19, 2015.

Ring-necked Duck, male with visible ring on neck

Ring-necked Duck, male with visible ring on neck

Ring-necked Duck

Binomial name: Aythya collaris

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 17” long, 25” wing span

Weight: 1.5 lb.

Habitat:  Shallow freshwater or acidic wetlands such as fens, bogs, marshes, beaver ponds and swamps. They will use saltwater areas in the southern states.

Diet: The Ring-necked Duck gets its food diving shallow or near the surface.  Eats plants such as wild rice, wild celery, sedges, reed canary grass, arrowhead, water lilies, pondweed. The main diet for adult females when feeding duckings is earth worms, leeches, midges, clams and caddis flies which is also what the duckings are feed.

Nesting:  The nest is simply built by the female just before egg-laying time. Materials are grasses and stems taken from nearby the nest area, usually 2”-10” directly above the water to help protect from land predators. The size is 2”-4” deep and 9”-10” across with a ramp made to the water. The female lines the nest with her down feathers. Usually one egg per day is laid with a clutch size of 6-14 eggs.

Facts: Although called a Ring-necked Duck, it appears to have a ringed bill. The ring on the neck, how it gets its name is chestnut-colored and hard to see unless you are close up. Some Minnesota lakes are gathering places for hundreds of thousands of these ducks during fall migration to feed on wild rice.

Ring-necked Duck, female

Ring-necked Duck, female

Ring-necked Duck, male-left /Ring-necked Duck, female-right

Ring-necked Duck, male-left /Ring-necked Duck, female-right

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Ducks, males

Ring-necked Ducks, males

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Duck, male with visible ring on neck

Ring-necked Duck, male (3), Ring-necked Duck, female (1)

Ring-necked Duck, male (3), Ring-necked Duck, female (1)

Ring-necked Duck, male-left /Ring-necked Duck, female-right

Ring-necked Duck, male-left /Ring-necked Duck, female-right

Ring-necked Duck, male

Ring-necked Duck, male

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Ring-necked Ducks, 2 male, 1 female

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Ring-necked Duck, male (4), Ring-necked Duck, female (1)

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Ring-necked Duck, male with visible ring on neck

Stretching

Stretching

Stretching

Stretching

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Ring-necked Ducks, males, one resting, one not

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Just looking, Ring-necked Ducks, males

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Ring-necked Duck, female

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Look at those “Ring-necks”!

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Just hanging out, Ring-necked Ducks, 2 males, 1 female

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Wood Duck on the Pewaukee River in Pewaukee Wisconsin on March 7, 2015

After reading the post of the male Wood Duck on the Pewaukee River in Pewaukee this afternoon I just had to check it out. This is just down the road when it comes to birding. It was present when I arrived with a few onlookers. It was hanging out with some Mallards. What a beautiful duck with its striking colors, oh my! A Red-tailed Hawk came in twice looking for dinner but left empty. A skateboarder came by and flushed all the ducks from the river with the sound of his board. A big thank you to Christine L for posting her find sharing it with others. It sure was nice to be out with some milder temps. Images were taken on March 7, 2015.

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Wood Duck

Binomial name: Aix sponsa

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 18.5” long, 30” wing span

Weight: 1.3 lb

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Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

Preening

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The back view

The back view

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White-winged Scoters at the Milwaukee River Mouth on the Milwaukee Lakefront on February 24, 2015

I birded a couple of hours today on the Milwaukee lakefront and it provided some nice views of White-winded Scoters. This location was at the Milwaukee River mouth near the lighthouse. There appeared to be 9 scoters present while I was there. One beautiful adult was present along with some females and 1st winters. All of the ducks present appeared to be diving for mussels and resting in between. Also present were many Greater Scaups and Common Goldeneyes, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers and a female Redhead. South Shore Yacht Club was froze up with only a couple of gulls and geese. I did not hang around long with the stiff northwest winds and cold temps, but nice to get out with some sun. I also had the opportunity to meet some birders today, seems like everyone is anxious for more spring like weather, it is less than a month away! If I have something labeled incorrect please let me know, thank you. Images were taken on February 24, 2015.

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter

Binomial name: Melanitta fusca

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 21” long, 34” wing span

Weight: 3.7 lb

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter, male adult, just before the dive!

White-winged Scoter, male adult, head up, just before the dive!

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White-winged Scoter, male adult taking a dive for a mussel.

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White-winged Scoter, male adult taking a dive for a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult taking a dive for a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult taking a dive for a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel.

White-winged Scoter, male adult with a mussel just before swallowing it.

White-winged Scoter, male, adult with a Greater Scaup male in pursuit of the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, adult with a Greater Scaup male in pursuit of the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male adult shaking it off!

White-winged Scoter, male adult shaking it off!

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter, male adult

White-winged Scoter, male adult back, White-winged Scoter, adult female front

White-winged Scoter, male, adult back, White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter front

White-winged Scoter, male

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter

White-winged Scoter, male,

White-winged Scoter, female, adult

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter female adult left, White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter right

White-winged Scoter, male, adult just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, adult just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter going for the mussel

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter looking at you!

White-winged Scoter, male, 1st winter looking at you!

White-winged Scoter, male, adult just resting

White-winged Scoter, male, adult just resting

Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 22, 2015

I birded the Milwaukee lakefront this morning and it was pretty much the winter ducks with mostly Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaups. I had hoped to find a couple of Red-throated Loons since some are being reported in Port Washington. One never knows what shows up at the lakefront here from hour to hour. Some open water in a few locations on the lakefront. Some of those locations were the Lighthouse at the Milwaukee River mouth, and Lakeshore State Park. These locations had nice numbers of Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup, with a few Common Mergansers. South Shore Yacht Club had just a little bit of open water, just a few ducks were present there. I ran into Mike W and he showed me some of his hot birding locations along the Menomonee River downtown. They were slow today with a American Coot and Common Mergansers and the typical winter ducks. They have been great spots for Mike over the years and I’ll have to get them on my list of places to hit in the future. Best views for ducks today was Lakeshore State Park. It was very cold day today with a stiff wind right out of the NW in the big open park, sun felt good when you were out of the wind. Images were taken on February 22, 2015.

Greater Scaup, female chasing a Greater Scaup for a mussel.

Greater Scaup, female chasing a Greater Scaup, male for a mussel.

Greater Scaup, female chasing a Greater Scaup, male for a mussel.

Greater Scaup, female chasing a Greater Scaup, male for a mussel.

Pair of Greater Scaups, males on the run.

Pair of Greater Scaups, males on the run.

Greater Scaup, male

Greater Scaup, male adult

Great Scaup, female with a small stretch

Great Scaup, female adult with a small stretch

Great Scaup, female with a small stretch

Great Scaup, female adult with a small stretch

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male adult

Common Goldeneye, female

Common Goldeneye, female adult

Common Goldeneye, female interacting with a Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, female interacting with a Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Common Goldeneye, female interacting with a Common Goldeneye, male. Love the face of the Common Goldeneye male!

Common Goldeneye, female interacting with a Common Goldeneye, male, 1st year. Love the face of the Common Goldeneye male!

Greater Scaup, male

Greater Scaup, male adult

Greater Scaup just up from a dive but with no mussel.

Greater Scaup, male adult just up from a dive but with no mussel.

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head.

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head.

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head.

Greater Scaup, female preening

Greater Scaup, female preening

Pair of Greater Scaups, females just hanging out

Pair of Greater Scaups, females just hanging out

Greater Scaup, female

Greater Scaup, female

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year

Great Scaup, male, preening

Great Scaup, male, preening

Common Goldeneye, male, adult

Common Goldeneye, male, adult

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head.

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Common Goldeneye, male 1st year, it appears the brown is starting to turn green on the head 3/20/15

Leucistic Greater Scaup at the Milwaukee River Milwaukee Wisconsin on February 15, 2015

Birding the Lake Michigan lakefront late morning provided some nice duck action. The highlight and surprise of the day was this beautiful what I think is a leucistic Greater Scaup Duck, female. It gave nice views for a few minutes early afternoon. This location was at the Bruce Street boat landing where the Kinnickinnic River meets the Milwaukee River near the lakefront. As I approached the small parking area there I got out of my car and quietly followed a woman birder Karen who I met after the event up to the hand railing at the river.  I picked through the ducks from a few feet behind her not wanting to flush any of the ducks. As she looked through the ducks so did I. I think we both spotted this interesting duck at the same time. As she turned around so did I and we both said, at the same time, I’m getting my camera! It was a fun birding moment as they say. The duck was present when I left. Snow was really coming down heavy when I left the lakefront area. Images were taken on February 15, 2015.

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Greater Scaup

Binomial name: Aythya marila

Category: Ducks, Geese and Swans

Size: 16.5” long, 25” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lb

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With Greater Scaup, female

With Greater Scaup, female

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With Greater Scaups, males

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With Greater Scaups, males

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With Greater Scaups, males

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With Greater Scaup, male

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With Greater Scaups

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With Greater Scaups, males

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Common Eider in Superior Wisconsin on January 30, 2015

I made the trip up to Superior Wisconsin in hopes to see the reported rare for this region, the Common Eider. Daryl Christensen made the trip up with me for what would be a very exciting event. We arrived in Superior about 8:15 am and hit Barkers Island as the reported location that this duck had last been viewed. The small open water on each side of the bridge to the island held 4 Mallard Ducks on one side and 8 Common Goldeneyes on the other.  The recent reports told of the Common Eider, female, being mixed in the very many Mallards and might be hard to locate? We left the area and traveled some of the city near the bay looking for open water. Everything was froze up. We even traveled the bridge into Minnesota in hopes to spot open water somewhere in the area from above, but had the same result, froze up. We went back to the island and a couple more ducks were present but no Common Eider. At this point we thought we may have lost the chances of seeing the Common Eider. We thought we would take a drive out of town to locate the deer carcass that had been reported on a Hwy 13 road side with a possible Black-billed Magpie. We located a carcass, watched over it for almost 30 minutes with no luck and decided maybe head back into town in hopes the Common Eider has made an appearance. Sure enough, there the Common Eider sat on the ice with approximately 40 other ducks, with some in the water. To say the least, we had two very excited birders making the day complete, each with a new life bird. A drake Northern Pintail was also in the group of ducks that had just came in and it gave nice views. We put together the ducks maybe spend the night way out in open water, during the morning hours they start returning to the small open water near the island bridge, just a thought. Thanks to the finder of this bird and all the birders that kept the continuing reports of this bird coming in. Images were taken on January 30, 2015.

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Common Eider

Binomial name: Somateria mollissima

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 24” long, 38” wing span

Weight: 4.7 lbs

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Common Eider with Mallard, male behind

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Common Eider hanging out with Mallards, male

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Preening

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Just out of water with Mallards

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Just out of water with Mallards

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Common Eider with Mallard, female

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Looking for a place to loaf, with Mallards

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Taking a break on the ice

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Mallard, male front, Common Eider back

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Common Eider with Mallard behind, male

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Common Eider stretching

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Common Eider with Northern Pintail behind, male

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Northern Pintail, male

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Northern Pintail

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Northern Pintail

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Northern Pintail

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Northern Pintail in Superior Wisconsin on January 30, 2015

The Northern Pintail adult, was one of the other duck species present at the Common Eider location in Superior Wisconsin. The exact location was at the bridge going onto Barker’s Island. Image was taken on January 30, 2015.

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Northern Pintail

Binomial name: Anas acuta

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 21” long, 34” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lbs

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

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Common Goldeneye and Greater and Lesser Scaup Ducks at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin December 7, 2014

Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin has been giving nice views of Greater and Lesser Scaups and Common Goldeneyes. Numbers are not high there in the park but a few to enjoy. The open water on the big lake has 1,000’s of these species right now along with and some Bufflehead, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers. The Snowy Owl over at the Lake Express Ferry was near its hangout, the culvert pipe coming out of the ground. It was inside it this morning, later in the morning it appeared to be outside of it next to it. It seemed like there were many spectators there waiting for close up views when I checked a few times this morning. Images were taken on December 7, 2014.

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Greater Scaup, female adult

Common Goldeneye, female

Common Goldeneye, male 1st winter

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male 1st winter

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male adult

Greater Scaup, female

Lesser Scaup, female adult

Greater Scaup, male

Greater Scaup, male adult, on the beach.

Greater Scaup, female

Greater Scaup, female adult, on the beach.

Greater Scaup, female left - male right

Greater Scaup adults, female left – male right, on the beach.

Greater Scaup, females watching a piece of ice go by!

Greater Scaup, females watching a piece of ice go by!

Common Goldeneye, male, looking at you!

Common Goldeneye, male adult, looking at you!

Greater Scaup, female

Greater Scaup, female adult

Common Goldeneye, male adult

Common Goldeneye, male adult

Common Goldeneye, adult female

Common Goldeneye, female adult

Long-tailed Duck at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee Wisconsin December 6, 2014

I birded the Milwaukee lakefront this morning and the highlight of the day was a adult female Long-tailed Duck. Jym M. found the gorgeous Long-tailed Duck hanging out in the boat dock area there. Thanks Jym! I ran into Jym while birding Bradford Beach looking through gulls. I had looked hard and ran into other birders looking for the reported Kumlien’s Iceland Gull Jym found yesterday with no luck at numerous gull hangouts. Lots of gulls along the lakefront this morning, I just could not find anything odd. The Snowy Owl was still hanging out in the culvert pipe at the Lake Express Ferry catching sun. Images were taken on December 6, 2014.

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Long-tailed Duck

Binomial name: Clangula hyemalis

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 16.5” long, 28” wing span

Weight: 1.6 lb.

Note: Long-tailed Duck formally known as Oldsquaw

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stretching

Stretching

Tail shot

Tail shot

Tail shot

Tail shot

Looking at you!

Looking at you!

Northern Shovelers, Shorebirds and more at Bradford Beach and Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee October 3, 2014

I birded Bradford Beach and Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee today around noon. Bradford Beach had 1 Black-bellied Plover, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper and about 15 Sanderlings. Some high gusts of wind from the southwest made for an interesting setting for the shorebirds. Sometimes it was like a whiteout! Lakeshore State Park had a few new ducks. 2 Northern Shovelers, 3 Ruddy Ducks and a Gadwall. Some Palm Warblers were also present. Images were taken on October 3, 2014.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

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Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers with Mallard in back.

Northern Shovelers with Mallard in back

Gadwall

Gadwall

Ruddy Ducks, distant shot

Ruddy Ducks, distant shot

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Sanderlings

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Sanderling in back with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Sanderling in back with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper with blowing sand!

Semipalmated Sandpiper, front - Sanderling back

Semipalmated Sandpiper, front – Sanderling back

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Sanderling

Sanderling

Sanderling

Sanderling

Sanderling feeding in the sand

Sanderling feeding in the sand

Sanderling in search of food

Sanderling in search of food

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

"Fall is in the air", Ring-billed Gull

“Fall is in the air”, Ring-billed Gull

Sandhill Cranes with colts

Sandhill Cranes with colts, South Kettle Moraine Waukesha County Wisconsin. I did a little birding today and came across 2 adult and 2 colt Sandhill Cranes. They gave some nice views as the foraged along eating grubs, caterpillars, etc. before heading into some woods out of sight. Photographs taken on June 6, 2014.

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Sandhill Crane

Binomial name: Grus canadensis

Category: Cranes

Size: 46” long, 77” wing span

Weight: 10.6 lb.

Habitat: Sandhill Cranes typically breed, forage and nest in wetlands, grasslands, marshes, bogs and sometimes dry lands. Out of the breeding season they spend more time in deeper water of lakes and ponds where they are more safe from the many predators they have being a ground species.

Diet: Seeds, grains, snails, insects, worms, amphibians, reptiles, nestling birds, small mammals, and sometimes berries. With their long bills the dig for tubers.

Nesting: The nest is constructed of dead plant material such as cattails, burr reeds, sedges and grasses. Later on green plant material is added to the nest. The nest is cup shaped 30”-40” across and 4”-6” high lined with small sticks and twigs. Both adults gather the material, but the female arranges the materials in the construction of the nest to her liking. The male defends the nest during incubation. 1-3 eggs are laid in the nest, both parents incubate the eggs for 30 days, they hatch covered in down. The young leave the nest usually in less than a day. The adults feed the young for the first few weeks and then less and less as they become more independent taking 9 to 10 months.

Cool facts: The Sandhill Cranes is the most common crane in the world. Sandhill Cranes are known by their graceful dancing skills. Within 8 hours of hatching the young are capable of swimming. If a mate dies, a new mate is found and a nest is reused by the new pair.

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Practicing takeoff!

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Colt preening

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Garganey

Garganey at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Grantsburg, Wisconsin on May 1, 2014. The male Garganey will be a 1st state record for this species in the state pending acceptance. The normal range for this species is quite large covering much of Eurasia in breeding season and winters in southern Africa and Asia. Within a couple of minutes after arriving at Crex about 7:00am the bird was located near to where it has been reported over 1 week ago. That location was south and east of the intersection of County Road F and Abel Road. A couple of hours later we relocated the duck just north of that spot in the Erickson Flowage with more distant views. At that time it was very active for awhile as it moved around to numerous spots on the flowage. The duck has been hanging out with Blue-winged Teal. It was a cloudy and cold day with steady winds making it feel like winter. Still some snow on the ground in a couple of places. A new life bird!

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Garganey

Binomial name: Anas querquedula

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 15.5” long, 24” wing span

Weight: 13 Oz.

Habitat: Common breeding habitat for this species is small shallow ponds and lakes with floating vegetation like in swamps, fields of water and freshwater marshes.

Diet: Wide range of plant seeds, pondweeds, grasses, as well some insects by skimming the water.

Nesting: The nests are in a shallow depression underneath tall plant material usually less than 100 feet from waters edge.

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Garganey – male on left with 3 Blue-winged Teal on right

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Garganey – male upright preening on right side with 2 Blue-winged Teal with heads under water.

Garganey - male - in front, Blue-winged Teal in back

Garganey – male – in front, Blue-winged Teal in back

Garganey - male, right

Garganey – male, right

Garganey - male back, Blue-winged Teal - male front

Garganey – male back, Blue-winged Teal – male front

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan -Crex Meadows

Trumpeter Swan Crex Meadows

Trumpeter Swan Crex Meadows

Surf Scoter

While birding Milwaukee’s Lakefront this morning I located the Surf Scoter that had been recently reported. It was just north of the South Shore Yacht Club. The Red-necked Grebe was also still present that had been reported but it was out near the breakwall. It was a gloomy morning and started to rain shortly after I arrived. I hung around long enough to get a few photographs. Photographs taken on April 12, 2014.

Surf Scoter - adult male

Surf Scoter – adult male

Surf Scoter

Binomial name: Melanitta perpicillata

Category: Ducks, Geese and Swans

Size: 20” long, 30” wing span

Weight: 2.1 lb.

Habitat:  Breeds across Alaska through northern Canada on freshwater lakes and wetlands in the Arctic that have minimal forests. They winter on both coasts of the US.

Diet: Main diet is mollusks but also consumes crustaceans, aquatic insects, small fish and plant matter. Typically dives water less than 30 feet deep.

Nesting:  The nest is a depression in the ground located near rivers, lakes or near the sea. They are usually well hidden in dense brush or low branches. Usually 5-9 creamy-white eggs are laid in the nest lined with vegetation parts and down. As soon as the young are dry, they leave the nest and the female leads them to food rich areas. Young can feed themselves at that time.

Cool Facts: Has the nickname “skunk-head coot”.

Surf Scoter - adult male

Surf Scoter – adult male

Surf Scoter - stretching adult male

Surf Scoter – stretching adult male

Surf Scoter - stretching adult male

Surf Scoter – stretching adult male

Surf Scoter - adult male with Greater Scaup - adult male

Surf Scoter – adult male with Greater Scaup – adult male

Surf Scoter - adult male

Surf Scoter – adult male

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Lesser Scaup

The Fox River in downtown Waukesha Wisconsin has been pretty exciting with duck species the last couple of weeks. Some hang around for a day or two, some weeks. Yesterday there were over 3o scaups, mostly Lesser Scaups. The majority of the scaups were napping most of the time I was there until the thin ice started disappearing, then there was more movement. Other duck species present yesterday, Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted Mergansers (m-f), Lesser and Greater Scaups (m-f), Bufflehead and American Coots. The wind made for a very cold day. Photographs taken on March 26th, 2014. Some of the taken images are for helping to see the differences in the ID of Lesser and Greater Scaups.

Lesser Scaup - Male

Lesser Scaup – Male

Lesser Scaup

Binomial name: Aythya affinis

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 16.5” long, 25” wing span

Weight: 1.8 lb.

Habitat: Breeding range in general, northern Great Plains, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Iowa sometimes more east, well into northern Alaska on freshwater inland ponds and lakes and marsh ponds in tundra.

Diet: Dive for aquatic plants and parts such as seeds, leaves, stems, tubers and roots. Some of these plants are muskgrass, wild celery, pondweeds and sedges. Their diet also includes aquatic insects, clams, snails, mussels, and other crustaceans which they get by forging and sifting through mud on the bottom.

Nesting: A nest is nothing more than a bowl shaped of grasses on the ground or on a mound typically lined with down. It is placed in a sheltered location above water or near water in thick vegetation such as grasses, sedges, and bullrushes. An average of 9 olive-brown or pale greenish colored eggs are laid, and the female uses distracting displays to keep away foxes, ravens, red-tailed hawks, raccoons, owls, minks and various gull species. Young leave the nest after incubation of 21-27 days as soon as they are dry after hatching. At that time female takes them to food immediately as they can swim and they feed themselves.

Facts: With its distinctive blue bill, this duck is commonly called-the bluebill by hunters. Of the diving ducks, the Lesser is one of the most plentiful and widespread in North America. Similar to the Lesser Scaup, accurate counts of this bird are not possible and both species are counted and numbers then adjusted.  Dives for its food, but eats it on the surface. Large flocks of these ducks have been seen, up to 500,000 at once. They feed throughout the day for 20 minutes at a time. To identify the Greater from the Lesser Scaup, sometimes field guides are needed as they are so similar. The black nail on the end of the bill is one of the easiest tips for ID of the Lesser as it is very narrow. On the Greater the black nail on the tip of the bill is wider. Recently a friend of mine observed a Snowy Owl capturing, killing and eating a Scaup species on Lake Michigan.

Lesser Scaup - Male

Lesser Scaup – Male – Note: Black narrow nail on bill tip

Lesser Scaup stretching - Male

Lesser Scaup stretching – Male

Lesser Scaup stretching - Male

Lesser Scaup stretching – Male

Lesser Scaup front left more peak on back of head - Male, Greater Scaup right front, more rounded head, black nail wider on bill end - F

Lesser Scaup front left more peak on back of head – Male, Greater Scaup right front, more rounded head, black nail wider on bill end – Female

Greater Scaup left - F, 4 Lesser Scaups - M

Greater Scaup left – Female, 4 Lesser Scaups – Male

Greater Scaup front - FM, Lesser Scaup back - M

Greater Scaup front, note wider black nail on bill tip – Female, Lesser Scaup back, note narrow black nail on bill tip – Male

Greater Scaup drinking, wider black nail on bill tip, rounder head shape - Female

Greater Scaup drinking, wider black nail on bill tip, rounder head shape – Female

Lesser Scaup preening - Male

Lesser Scaup preening – Male

Lesser Scaup preening, narrow black nail on bill tip - Male

Lesser Scaup preening, narrow black nail on bill tip – Male

Greater Scaup front, round shaped head - Female.  Lesser Scaup behind, more pointed head - Male

Greater Scaup front, round shaped head – Female. Lesser Scaup behind, more pointed head – Male

Lesser Scaup resting - Male

Lesser Scaup resting – Male

Lesser Scaup resting - Male

Lesser Scaup resting – Male

Lesser Scaup resting - Female

Lesser Scaup resting – Female

Lesser Scaup resting - Female

Lesser Scaup resting – Female

Lesser Scaup resting - Male

Lesser Scaup resting – Male

Greater Scaup middle - Female, remaining Lesser Scaups - Male, note head shapes

Greater Scaup middle – Female, remaining Lesser Scaups – Male, note head shapes

Lesser Scaup - Female

Lesser Scaup – Female

Lesser Scaup splashing - Male

Lesser Scaup splashing – Male

Lesser Scaup preening, note narrow black nail on bill tip - Male

Lesser Scaup preening, note narrow black nail on bill tip – Male

Greater Scaup - Male - Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Male – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip.

Greater Scaup - Female - Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Female – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip and more round head shape.

Greater Scaup - Female walking on ice - Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Female walking on ice – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip.

Greater Scaup - Female walking on ice - Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Female walking on ice – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip.

Greater Scaup - Male  -  Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Male – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip.

Greater Scaup - Male  -  Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Male – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note more round head shape.

Greater Scaup - Female  -  Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 2, 2014

Greater Scaup – Female – Milwaukee River Mouth / Lake Michigan Lakefront, February 23, 2014. Note wide black nail on bill tip.

Redhead

Redhead ducks have been present at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha, WI for the last couple of weeks.  Today, 8 of them were present. With 10-degree temps in the morning, thin ice had formed overnight on the river. The ice kept the ducks near the open water area by the dam where the river is more narrow which gave nice views. As ice disappeared as the sun moved higher they moved out into the wider part of the river. Other duck species present today, Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted Mergansers (m-f), Lesser and Greater Scaups (m-f ), Bufflehead and American Coots. The wind made for a very cold day. Photographs taken on March 26th, 2014.

Redhead – Male

Redhead

Binomial name: Aythya americana

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 19” long, 29” wing span

Weight: 2.3 lb.

Habitat:  Lakes and ponds, in a general breeding range from the Mississippi River west and from northern Texas north into central Canada.

Diet: Dive for aquatic plants and parts such as seeds, leaves, algae, stems, tubers and roots. Some of these plants are water lilies, grasses, wild rice, wild celery and pondweeds.  Their diet also includes aquatic insects, mollusks and small-sized fish.

Nesting:  Redhead ducks usually find a new mate each year in late winter for the following spring. In midsummer a nest is constructed of new and old vegetation and lined with down. Nests are located in dense marshes, prairie potholes, and woodland free areas where water levels are at least 28” deep as they dive for their food.  Redheads on occasion use nests that other ducks have constructed. The female lays on the average of 7-12 eggs.

Cool Facts: After the breeding season the adult male heads to big open waters, goes through a molt period, and is almost flightless for a month.

Redhead – Male

Redhead – Male – Female

Redhead – Female

Redhead – Male

Redhead preening – Male

Redhead preening – Male

Redhead – Male – Female

Redhead – Female

Redhead – Female – Male

Redhead – Male

Redhead – Female – Male

Redhead – Male – Fowler Lake Waukesha Co, April 4, 2013

Ring-necked Duck

A Ring-necked Duck showed up at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha, WI today. It hung around with other species present that were Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted (m-f) and ~20 Common Mergansers (m-f), Redheads (m-f) Scaups (m-f ). A pair of Buffleheads were reported, but I could not locate them. There was no female Ring-necked Duck to be found. The pair of Mute Swan were still present and still getting big views by pedestrians, walkers and bikers on the river walk. The wind made for a very cold day. Photographs taken on March 20th, 2014.

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Ring-necked Duck

Binomial name: Aythya collaris

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 17” long, 25” wing span

Weight: 1.5 lb.

Habitat:  Shallow freshwater or acidic wetlands such as fens, bogs, marshes, beaver ponds and swamps. They will use saltwater areas in the southern states.

Diet: The Ring-necked Duck gets its food diving shallow or near the surface.  Eats plants such as wild rice, wild celery, sedges, reed canary grass, arrowhead, water lilies, pondweed. The main diet for adult females when feeding duckings is earth worms, leeches, midges, clams and caddis flies which is also what the duckings are feed.

Nesting:  The nest is simply built by the female just before egg-laying time. Materials are grasses and stems taken from nearby the nest area, usually 2”-10” directly above the water to help protect from land predators. The size is 2”-4” deep and 9”-10” across with a ramp made to the water. The female lines the nest with her down feathers. Usually one egg per day is laid with a clutch size of 6-14 eggs.

Facts: Although called a Ring-necked Duck, it appears to have a ringed bill. The ring on the neck, how it gets its name is chestnut-colored and hard to see unless you are close up. Some Minnesota lakes are gathering places for hundreds of thousands of these ducks during fall migration to feed on wild rice.

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Ring-necked Duck - M, Common Goldeneye - M in front

Ring-necked Duck – M, Common Goldeneye – M in front

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Ring-necked Duck - M, Common Goldeneye - M in back

Ring-necked Duck – M, 3rd from right, Common Goldeneye – FM far left, 2 others Common Goldeneys – M

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Hooded Merganser

A pair of Hooded Mergansers were present on the Fox River in downtown Waukesha WI. today. The female has been around for a couple of days but a male arrived this afternoon. The pair hung together swimming, catching prey and preening. Other species present were Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted (m-f) ~30 Common Mergansers (m-f), Redheads (m-f) with many Mallards (m-f). Scaups were also present but I never checked to see if they were G or L as I was focused on the Hooded Mergansers. The river was wide open today with milder temps and the duck were more spread out. The Mute Swans in the area were still the highlight at the river walk to pedestrians, bikers and walkers. Photographs were taken on March 18, 2014.

Hooded Merganser - M (crest up)

Hooded Merganser – M (crest mostly up)

Hooded Merganser

Binomial name: Lophodytes cucullatus

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 18” long, 24” wing span

Weight: 1.4 lb.

Habitat:  This secretive duck prefers wooded freshwater wetlands where mature, cavity-bearing trees exist for nesting. They will also use open wetlands where next boxes have been put installed.

Diet: Small fish, crustaceans (especially crayfish), amphibians, and sometimes vegetation.

Nesting:  They select out of the way places, and the nest is usually well hidden on wooded ponds, lakes and rivers. In most cases it is hard to locate even by experienced birders and researchers. Nest is a shallow bowl usually made of existing materials in the cavity and then slowly adding her belly down after she starts laying 7-13 eggs. Nest cavities are usually 10-50 off the ground.

Cool facts: Hooded Mergansers have eyes that adapt to water clarity, if the water is murky or clear, they can still see their prey.  Considered to be one of the handsomest ducks in North America.

Hooded Merganser - F

Hooded Merganser – F

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down)

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down)

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F, Both preening

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F, Both preening

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F

Hooded Merganser - M (crest up)

Hooded Merganser – M (crest mostly up)

Hooded Merganser - M (crest down) - F

Hooded Merganser – M (crest down) – F

Mute Swan

Mute Swans on the Fox River in downtown Waukesha Wisconsin. A pair of Mute Swans have stopped in for a visit here on the river with some open water as temperatures have eased in recent days. Most places in the area are still froze over. Their stay so far has been about 5 days. The Mute Swans have put on great shows for bikers, pedestrians and photographers along the river walk with their beauty. Photographs were taken on March 17, 2014.

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Mute Swan

Binomial name: Cygnus olor

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 50”-60” long, 84”-94” wing span

Weight: 12.0 -31.0 lbs.

Habitat:  Prefer shallow lakes and ponds, estuaries, sometimes bogs and wetlands.

Diet: Aquatic plants and animals.

Nesting:  The nest is an open bowl found in a large mound of aquatic rushes, vegetation and grasses, usually lined with down or soft vegetation. This nest is normally found in a secluded area on an island, lake or river bank, or reed bed. Swans will lay 6-11 white to pale green eggs at a rate of 1 egg per day.  They will hatch about 35 days from when the last egg is laid.

Facts: A native to central and northern Eurasia the species was introduced into North American in the late 1800’s. It was brought into ponds of parks and estates for ornamental purposes. Their aggressive behavior threatens native waterfowl. They can consume 4-8 lbs. of plants a day and uproot native plants that are usually a food source and habitat for native birds and other native species. Management practices are continually being put in place for the control of this Swan species.

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American Black Duck

An American Black Duck on the Fox River in Waukesha WI. Photographs were taken on March 16, 2014.  Other species present were Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted and ~30 Common Mergansers (m-f),  with many Mallards (f-m). A large portion of the river froze up with the cold temps over night, but enough was open to hold most of the duck from yesterday. The Mute Swans in the area were still leading the show with their presence. Lots of sun in the afternoon, but the wind made it feel extremely cold.

American Black Duck

American Black Duck

American Black Duck

Binomial name: Anas rubripes

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 23” long, 35” wing span

Weight: 2.6 lbs.

Habitat:  Breeding habitat for this species are in freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, acid bogs, lakes, stream margins, and sometimes margins in estuaries in the eastern US.

Diet: Mostly plant matter but will also eat insects, crustaceans, mollusks and larvae of dragonflies, caddisflies, beetles. Fish can also be a part of their diet.

Nesting:  The female selects a well concealed site and builds a basin shape nest 7-8” across about 1.5” deep. It is usually located on or near the ground usually close to water. The nest is lined with feather down and plant material.  Crotches of trees, hollows or large tree cavities can also be a nesting site. The female incubates 8-12 eggs and usually does not leave the nest until the eggs hatch. Once hatched, the chicks can immediately swim and find food by themselves.

Cool facts: Previous known as the “dusky” duck as it is actually dark and not black. The American Black Duck is similar to the Mallard Duck in profile but smaller in size.

 American Black Duck

American Black Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a Drake Mallard Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a male Mallard Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a Drake Mallard Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a male Mallard Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a Drake Mallard Duck

American Black Duck being chased by a male Mallard Duck

American Black Duck stretching

American Black Duck stretching

American Black Duck stretching

American Black Duck stretching

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck shaking

American Black Duck shaking

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck preening

American Black Duck

American Black Duck

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovelers on the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin. Other species present were Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Redhead Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted and Common Mergansers (m-f), American Coots, first of the year for me and many Mallards. Surprisingly, I did not see any female American Shovelers, just males. Two Mute Swans present took the show to all the people walking and bikers out today along the river walk.  There is little ice left on the river with temps in the low 50′s today. The ducks look gorgeous this time of year! Images were taken on Friday March 14, 2014.

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler stretching  – Male

Northern Shoveler

Binomial name: Anas clypeata

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 19” long, 30” wing span

Weight: 1.4 lbs.

Habitat:  Breeding habitat for this species is open shallow wetlands, marshes, prairie potholes or wet grasslands.

Diet:  Swimming invertebrates, also seeds from sedges, bulrushes, grasses and other plants. that are sifted through a filtering system made of projections that line their mouth edges.

Nesting:  Nest is cup size, lined with down, on the ground and usually concealed in short grass near water. The nest usually has of 8-12 eggs pale-greenish gray or pale buff.

Cool facts:  The Northern Shovelers large bill sifts food through a filtering system made of projections that line their mouth edges.

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler stretching  – Male

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler – Male

 

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler – Male

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler preening – Male

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler preening – Male

Northern Shoveler - Male

Northern Shoveler – Male

Northern Shovelers - Male

Northern Shovelers – Male

Northern Shovelers - male with a Mallard - male

Northern Shovelers – Male with a Mallard – Male

Red-breasted Merganser - female

Red-breasted Merganser – Female

Red-breasted Merganser - Female

Red-breasted Merganser – Female

Redhead Ducks, stretching Male (r), FM (l)

Redhead Ducks, stretching Male (r), Female (l)

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Northern Shoveler - Male - Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler – Male – Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler - Female - Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler – Female – Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler - Male - Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler – Male – Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler - Female - Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler – Female – Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler - Male - Horicon Marsh, November, 2011

Northern Shoveler – Male – Horicon Marsh, November, 2011