Bird-watching: Duck, duck, goose – The Gazette

Two carefully associated duck species usually seen within the spring and late fall are the scaup.

Hunters usually discuss with them as “bluebills” and aptly so. Each possess a light-weight blue invoice. Whereas making an attempt to inform the 2 species aside generally is a problem within the area, understanding just a few of their key variations could support in a optimistic identification.

The scaup are diving geese, usually present in rafts with different diver species like ring-necked duck, widespread goldeneye, redhead, canvasback and ruddy duck.

Whereas seeing one on a shallow pond or marsh is just not out of the query, the extra productive locations to look are typically deeper our bodies of water.

When in breeding plumage, male scaup have a greenish or purplish head, black breast, a vermiculated grey and black again, white sides, black rear and blue invoice. Feminine scaup are typically brown total with a darker brown head. Females of each species even have white across the base of the invoice, which may be extra exaggerated in better scaup.

A set of area marks are key for evaluating and discerning the 2 species. In men and women, head form performs a big function. Better scaup are inclined to have a extra strong and gently rounded head profile. Lesser scaup have a small inflection level or “nook” close to the rear of the top. This may make the top of the lesser scaup seem peaked. An actively diving lesser scaup can generally seem to have a extra rounded head. It’s because the diving exercise could flatten out the crown feathers.

Tough birds like this could both be left unidentified as “scaup species” or endurance could also be wanted to ultimately observe the chook at relaxation. A resting Lesser Scaup will normally present the proper head form.

Head colour is one other factor to concentrate to. Better scaup have a tendency to indicate a inexperienced iridescence in head coloration, whereas lesser exhibits purple. Head colour, nevertheless, is just not a very diagnostic characteristic of both species. Lesser scaup can usually present inexperienced head coloration or a mixture of inexperienced and purple as nicely.

There are just a few different variations in male scaup. The white facet patches are inclined to have skinny mild brown barring in “lesser.” The dearth of this barring in “better” makes them seem to have “whiter” sides. Better scaup is barely bigger than “lesser” at about an inch longer and three inches extra wingspan. Better scaup even have a bigger, broader invoice. The “nail” on the finish of the invoice is bigger is “better” than in “lesser.” Lastly, the white discovered all through the secondary and first feathers is extra intensive in “better” than in “lesser.”

Search for both scaup species throughout their peak migration within the spring and fall. March is actually the spring peak for each species in Iowa, particularly the “better.” The height of migration for “lesser” begins in March and spills over into April.

The Mississippi River hosts the biggest numbers for better scaup throughout spring migration and is maybe one of the best place to search for them in Iowa. In Linn County, Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids and Nice Creek SRA north of Palo are good locations to search for both species throughout migration. In Johnson County, Hawkeye WMA, Terry Trueblood RA and Coralville Lake are productive places.

Cone Marsh in Louisa County can host a pleasant number of each diving and dabbling duck species. Maintain an eye fixed out on small ponds, even in city areas. Both species could persist in small numbers into the winter months if open water persists. Verify curler dams and reservoir tail water areas in addition to areas saved open on rivers by industrial water inflow.

MARCH BIRDS

— Waterfowl, waterfowl, waterfowl. Cone Marsh and Hawkeye WMA are prime locations to look at migrating waterfowl. Maintain the looking seasons in thoughts and put on hunter orange if out birding on public lands. The Mississippi River additionally hosts a lot of waterfowl in migration. Inexperienced Island WMA additionally may be nice when peak numbers and variety coincide.

— Gull watching may be fairly good in March. Cedar Lake and Coralville Lake, if nonetheless iced up in locations, generally host a pleasant range. Search for herring, lesser black-backed, glaucous, and Iceland gulls. Getting good at herring and ring-billed gull identification is one of the best place to start out a journey to turning into good at gull identification. Gulling is probably the most difficult type of birding by far.

— Search for Sandhill Cranes at Cone Marsh WMA in Louisa County. Whereas many cranes migrate by means of Japanese Iowa, many will truly keep to breed in marshy areas. Hear for his or her loud, trumpeting-like sound.

PHOTOGRAPHY ADVICE

This month’s recommendation is brief, however could make a world of distinction in photograph high quality. Clear lens covers which can be made to guard the lens from scratching, mud, and so forth. are usually not advisable.

Taking pictures by means of an additional layer of glass can severely diminish the standard of photographs, usually making them appear fuzzy. A hood is an effective solution to defend the lens from scratches and different parts, corresponding to rain. A hood additionally serves to shade the lens from daylight or different mild sources, stopping glare and lens flare.

Brandon Caswell has undergraduate levels in biology, anthropology and geology. He enjoys bird-watching and nature images. He helps instruct introductory and superior programs in environmental science and geoscience on the College of Iowa. E mail brandon.caswell83@gmail.com

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