Monday, February 23, 2009
My World: Redhead or Canvasback?
My World is a world where shapes and silhouettes matter. When I am trying to identify a bird one of the first things I look at is the size and shape. Each species has its own unique profile as well as a different beak for a different purpose. I took this photo of a Redhead and Canvasback male ducks back in January. It wasn't until I was home that I realized what a perfect opportunity it is to show the difference and similarities between the two species. We see most of our ducks here in the wintertime at local lakes, ponds, reservoirs and Sewage Treatment Plants. We often get both of these species of duck. This photo shows the male of each species. The Redhead (average length 19") has a more rounded head, a gray back, and a gray bill with a black tip. Note the yellow eye also. However, the larger Canvasback (average length 21") has a more whitish body with a redhead that fades into black near the face. The canvasback also has a red eye. What is most distinctive, however,is the shape of that bill and forehead. Both species of duck are classified as diving ducks, but the redhead is known to dabble in the shallows at times.
Soon the spring migration will start and these two species will be flying north to their nesting grounds on wetlands and prairie potholes, but for now I get to enjoy them right here in the desert of Southeast Arizona where it is 85 degrees and breezy today. I have my windows open wide and I can hear the birds singing like crazy under slightly overcast skies. I think the refrain they are singing is, "Spring is coming, Spring is coming! and it's starting right here!"