I’m taking a duck class! Thanks to Audubon, I have access to expert guidance to learn about birds. It’s incredibly rewarding to learn what to focus my attention on when in the field. Learning field marks is the key to telling all those bunches of feathers apart from one another.
It was a sunny field trip to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
I’ve learned about a new domestic duck, the Call Duck. Call ducks were originally called Coy or Decoy Ducks from the Dutch word de kooi meaning ‘trap.’ And that’s precisely what they were used for. Hunters would set out Call Ducks to lure target birds then funnel them in to their demise. According to Wiki, the use of Call Ducks in the U.S. for hunting was permanently banned in 1935 because it resulted in over-harvest. Now, Call Ducks are primarily pets or exhibition birds or ‘traps’ for beginner birders who think they’re mallards.
The variety at CSRG look like mini-mallards.
Not the greatest comparison-photo below, but check out the difference in bill size. The Mallard on the left’s bill is much larger than the Call Duck’s bill (bottom-center). Update: Thanks to Laura’s keen eye, the left mallard has been identified as a possible hybrid due to the lack of typical brown chest, so I attached the original photo to include a true mallard in the upper right corner. So now there’s three different “mallards”! Duck madness!
The sunny day at the park brought out the iridescence in many of the birds.
These pictures of the Red-winged Blackbird are my favorite of the day.
It reminds me of my first picture of a Red-winged Blackbird this year at Whitaker Ponds. What is that fuzzy dark bird shape? Thank goodness for the new camera.
A nice surprise flew over our heads at the gardens. Eventually we caught a visual of the Green Heron across Crystal Springs Lake! A new bird for me (#90!).
Thus ends another glorious visit to the Rhododendron Gardens.
Tweets and chirps,