Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Green-winged Teal Helped Crack The Duck Code

It wasn't that long ago bird-watching became an official hobby for me. During the my year ducks were a mystery to me. All I ever saw was Mallards. I didn't know enough that you had to be at the right place or time to find those other ducks that seemed only to exist in field guides. It was the Green-winged Teal (above) which I found one March day that finally convinced me other ducks really did exist.
Ducks are great to study if you're trying to learn more about bird identification. You can see in this one picture how much smaller the Teal are compared to the female Mallard and how the 2 different species of female both have that drab brown look. The nice thing about watching ducks is that you have plenty of time to look at the more subtle field marks and use a field guide to make comparisons (as long as no one scares them off). If you tried that while watching sparrows the bird would be gone before you could even open the field guide.

 Ever since I saw those Green-winged Teal for the first time years ago I've returned to that same place and time every year to look for them. As long as the ice is melted they're always there around the 3rd week of March and hopefully other species of migrating ducks are soon to follow. 

It took me a while to realize that certain ducks like certain ponds and only show up at certain times of the year. You can't just go to any local duck pond in the middle of summer and expect see something other that Mallards. Once I got that through my head I was on my way to cracking the secret duck code and I can thank the Green-winged Teal for helping me to get started.


Josh Fecteau said...

You speak to one of my favorite aspects of birding -- how each turn of the seasons allows us to reaffirm our connection to particular birds in particular places.

TexWisGirl said...

i love the teals - both green-winged and blue-winged stop here in ne tx.

Kathie Brown said...

Nice detective work, Larry! You DESERVE A MEDAL! ;-)

Unknown said...

Beautiful shot of the Teals, and nice comparison with the mallards.. Just ducky!