Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Adventures & Observations

My birding blog site


  Batavia Birding and a Tufted Duck

Published: November 23, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Tufted Duck, Snowy Owl, American Pipit, Pine Siskin, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur

After a VERY snowy few days, I was thrilled to escape from the house yesterday!  Western New York received record breaking snowfall this past week, amounting to over 7 feet in some areas!  We had a little over six feet at our house in Orchard Park (conflicting reports say 63" or 71", depending upon whom you listen to).

Since some of the major roads were back open Saturday morning, I jumped at the chance to go birding with friends out in the Medina and Batavia areas.  We missed on a couple of our targets but saw some very nice birds, namely: a few Pine Siskins, 4 Lapland Longspurs, an American Pipit, a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings that numbered around 500 birds, Tundra Swans, a gorgeous, nearly all white Snowy Owl, and a couple of Greater White-fronted Geese. That was a great day of birding, despite the cold, soggy day.

Normally, that would be super birding for a weekend - but what a thrill to follow up with a life bird the next day!  A Tufted Duck was found inside the breakwall at LaSalle Park by birder-extraordinaire, Alec Humann. Mingling with some closely related scaup, the female's tuft stuck out a few times - and thankfully, it didn't escape Alec's notice. The female Tufted Duck was a little smaller than the scaup, had a darker back, lighter flanks, lacked the white at the base of the bill that scaup have, and, of course, had this wispy tuft that was very obvious at the right angle.  I had missed another of these ducks this past spring, so I was especially happy to get this life bird today.

The Tufted Duck is a rare visitor to our area with no record of breeding in North America. It hails from Eurasia, with infrequent visits to North America during migration. When found, it's usually a single bird that mingles with Ring-necked Ducks or Lesser Scaup. It is a diving duck whose numbers have actually increased due to its adaptation to man-made lakes and the open water created from gravel extraction.

I was able to capture a few photos of the Tufted Duck and posted those along with some birds from yesterday's birding and some "blizzard birds" that visited our feeders during this past week's Lake Effect storm.

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Pine Siskin at nyjer thistle feeder

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American Pipit

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Lapland Longspur

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Horned Lark to the right of a Lapland Longspur

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Snowy Owl

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Snowy Owl

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Snow Buntings

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Two Greater White-fronted Geese

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Tufted Duck

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Tufted Duck

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Tufted Titmouse during snow storm

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Tufted Titmouse

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House Finch (male)

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American Tree Sparrow

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Female Northern Cardinal braving the storm

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Male Northern Cardinal

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Downy Woodpecker

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Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Dark-eyed Junco

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Black-capped Chickadee

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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