Divers, Paddlers and Others

Some of the birds I’ve posted pictures of already had been swimming a lot closer to the shore then I previously saw. So, enjoy some closer pictures of these little birds, and some new discoveries!

Mallard Ducks were not meant to dive, but this one still tried!

Sometimes the water on the Lake seems as clear as glass. On those days I eagerly look for any diving birds. I just find it incredible that not only can they fly high in the air, but they can also dive into the water where they find their food! Oh, to be a diving bird!

Female Mallard? Nope! This is an American Black Duck!

The American Black Duck hides in plain sight in shallow wetlands of eastern North America. They often flock with the ubiquitous Mallard, where they look quite similar to female Mallards. But take a second look through a group of brown ducks to notice the dark chocolate-brown flanks, pale grayish face, and olive-yellow bill of an American Black Duck. Numbers of this shy but common duck declined sharply in the mid-twentieth century. Hunting restrictions have helped to stabilize their numbers, although habitat loss remains a problem.


In the world of ducks, females abide by the saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Female Canvasbacks sometimes lay eggs in another Canvasback’s nest; and Redheads and Ruddy Ducks sometimes lay their eggs in a Canvasback’s nest.

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebes are boldly plumaged waterbirds with pale cheeks and a daggerlike yellow bill that contrasts with a sharp black crown often likened to a toreador’s cap (sometimes raised into a short crest). In breeding plumage, the neck is a rich brick red. The species breeds on northerly lakes and winters mainly along ocean coastlines, usually singly but sometimes in small groups. During spring migration, flocks may form on large lakes, and pairs begin their boisterous courtship displays well before reaching breeding lakes farther north.

Greater Scaups

At a distance, breeding male Greater Scaup are black and white, but closer views reveal an iridescent green sheen on the head, super thin black barring on the back, a bluish bill, and a yellow eye. Females are brown overall with a darker brown head and a white patch next to the bill, but the size of the white patch varies. Nonbreeding males look like a cross between a female and a breeding male: a mottled brown-and-gray body and a blackish head.

Long-tailed Duck
Northern Shoveler

Perhaps the most outwardly distinctive of the dabbling ducks thanks to its large spoon-shaped bill, the Northern Shoveler busily forages head down in shallow wetlands. Its uniquely shaped bill has comblike projections along its edges, which filter out tiny crustaceans and seeds from the water. If the bill doesn’t catch your eye, the male’s blocky color palette sure will, with its bright white chest, rusty sides, and green head. The female is no less interesting with a giant orange bill and mottled brown plumage.


The Northern Shoveler was a new discovery for us this week! A lady we met in the park gave us a tip that there was a lone Shoveler in the nearby pond. It was a fun adventure to get a glimpse at this uncommon duck! We arrived at a murky pond where many Mallards were busily foraging. Then we saw this slightly smaller Duck. There he was, with his head down, intently looking for food! Most of the time his head was in the water and his bottom up in the air! Click on the pictures below to get a closer view!

Red-breasted Merganser

The Red-breasted Merganser is a shaggy-headed diving duck also known as the “sawbill”; named for its thin bill with tiny serrations on it that it uses to keep hold of slippery fish. It breeds in the boreal forest on freshwater and saltwater wetlands. Males are decked out with a dark green shaggy head, a red bill and eye, and a rusty chest. Females lack the male’s bright colors but also don the same messy do. It parades around coastal waters and large inland lakes in the United States and Mexico in the winter.


I was very happy to see the Red-breasted Merganser a little closer then previously. (The first time I spotted him, he was just a tiny spec in the vast lake!) I was excited to watch him dive into the lake.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swans demand superlatives: they’re our biggest native waterfowl, stretching to 6 feet in length and weighing more than 25 pounds – almost twice as massive as a Tundra Swan. Getting airborne requires a lumbering takeoff along a 100-yard runway. Despite their size, this once-endangered, now recovering species is as elegant as any swan, with a graceful neck and snowy-white plumage. They breed on wetlands in remote Alaska, Canada, and the northwestern U.S., and winter on ice-free coastal and inland waters.


I was not expecting to come across this rare Swan, but I’m so happy that we did! Trumpeter Swans were once close to extinction, but thanks to conservation, they made their comeback in the early 2000s. They are usually tagged, which you cannot miss…view the following gallery to see why!

A few times now, I’ve looked out onto the open Great Lake, and seen a swarm of dots floating above the surface. The dots are too far for our binoculars to show what they are, and as I’ve complained about before in a previous post, my camera lens would not help either! I wonder if these are Redhead’s – look it up!

Cooper’s Hawk

Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).


Not all the bird’s I see are in the water! For my last picture of this very long (but exciting – to me) post, here is a sleeping raccoon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the images in this post, as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you!

Thanks for viewing!

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