A running journal of my adventures as a young birder
Im thinking immature male Surf Scoter-TheGrine
Definitley a scoter. I'd guess Surf.James
Nope, not Hooded Merg or Surf Scoter. Both are good guesses though.
Sorry, not a barrow's. It's amazing how many ducks look very similar to this- I thought is was going to be a easy quiz, but between these comments and emails, 6 different species have been suggested, and all were very reasonable answers. Keep guessing!
The presence and pattern of white on the wings makes me lean toward Harlequin Duck (and eliminates scoters, I think), but that white on the back of the neck doesn't really fit too well...and female HADUs don't have the white on the wings (and it looks brown)...so perhaps a first-winter bird with weird plumage?
1st Winter Male Common Eider. I guess the white markings usually considered to be on the "back" of a sitting bird are actually located on the scapulars and coverts. Also, a hint of white is visible on the breast above the top left corner of the right wing. Along with the subtle lightness on what Sibley refers to as the "femoral tract," I can't think of any other possible identification.
Female Eider- if not, it could be a 1st winter King.- Brendan
Or Maybe a first winter female Greater Scaup, on second thought.- Brendan
Hmm... I still think its a diving duck... maybe a Common Eider... this is hard!James
I think it might be a female Common Goldeneye. Just a random guess. I have no idea really.
Good guesses everyone. Brent was the only one to get it entirely right on the first guess, though Brendan had the species but not gender and James got it on his second try.Clearly, this bird is a duck. Dark overall color without patterning led everyone to it being a diving duck. This is where is gets interesting. The white on the wings eliminated surf and black scoters, and probably white-winged scoter too, because it is in the wrong location. The white at the back of the head is a very important point, which rules out a ton of birds, including long-tailed duck, both goldeneye (if they are as dark as this, they don't have white on the head), harlequin duck, bufflehead, both scaup, and hooded merganser. This leaves us with the eiders. Only adult male King Eiders (breeding or nonbreeding) have white on the wings. Obviously it isn't a breeding male. I gave the location as MA in January, so there shouldn't be any adult nonbreeding King Eiders, plus the white on the back of the head would not be there. The correct answer is therefore Common Eider. Specifically, this is a first winter male Common Eider. Females would not have any of the white and would be browner. Obviously, this is not a breeding male, and nonbreeding male is eliminated by the date and because they have a lot more white on the wings. Additional points supporting eider is the "lightness in the femoral tract" that Brent mentioned, and the peaked head shape, which suggests eider. Thanks for guessing, everyone. I will try to do some more photo quizzes if I can get good (bad?) photos for them.Eamon