Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  A Tufted Duck at La Salle Park

Published: November 25, 2018
Tags: General Observations, tufted duck

I was doing some birding on a snowy day along the river, mostly looking at ducks and whatever else the waters of the Niagara might hold.  Several spots held nothing of interest, but when I got to La Salle Park (an afterthought), I had a little better luck.  I began picking through the ducks noting: scaup, goldeneye, bufflehead, gadwall, mallard, and redheads - with a few Horned Grebes in the mix.  Nothing close was exciting, but, when I zoomed-in far down the canal, I saw what looked to be a tuft on the back of a scaup-like duck.  I drove down to the other end of the canal and sure enough, there was a female duck with a moderate length tuft blowing in the wind.  This was most certainly a Tufted Duck!

Tufted Ducks are rare for our area, wandering to the northeastern United States from either Iceland or Europe.  It's always a puzzle how these rarities wind up here and we usually never know the full story.  This species of duck is the counterpart of our Ring-necked Duck and the similarities, apart from the tuft, are pretty obvious.  I think rather, though, they more resemble a Lesser Scaup, but that's just an opinion based on their physical characteristics.  Perhaps DNA or other physiological differences make it a closer relation to the Ring-necked Duck.

Anyway, after I confirmed the finding, I let other birders know about the duck's presence and location and then I hung around to be sure the first wave of birders got on it.  As I'm writing this, 7 days later, the duck remains at the same location and continues to associate with the Greater and Lesser Scaup in the canal.  Many birders have come to see this special gal and have been able to add this species to their life lists.  I was surprised at the number of people who even visited it today.  I wonder how long she'll stay with us...

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My first photo of the Tufted Duck - taken on that snowy day. There's a Greater Scaup to her right.

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Another photo taken on the 24th - a much clearer day and she was much closer to the close breakwall.

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Her tuft was blowin' in the wind!

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It's nice she's continuing to visit with us!

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