It’s a Duck but What Kind? August 2021

I came across these during a walk at Col. Sam Smith Park:

Hmmm. No obvious field marks. No crest, no green head, no blue wing marks, no red breast.

The Peterson Guide profiles 31 types of ducks. With females often looking quite different from males, this creates a lot of possibilities in duck identification.

The first big clue here is the bill which could be said to be dagger-like.

This is a merganser characteristic. But most mergansers have crests and these birds don’t. The second clue is the raised tail while swimming.

Ruddy Ducks have this silhouette but these are clearly not Ruddy Ducks.

Ruddy Duck (male)

Hooded Mergansers do not always show their crests. This plus the dagger-like bill and raised tail while swimming identity these as Hooded Mergansers.


I will identify it at the end of the post.

Other life:

American Robin
Mute Swan
Red-necked Grebe
Red-necked Grebe (juvenile)
Red-necked Grebe nest. Eggs appear to be abandoned.
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Double-crested Cormorant
European Starlings
Double-crested Cormorant
Canada Geese
Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow
I wasn’t the only birdwatcher
Double-crested Cormorants


This slim, long-tailed bird is a Mourning Dove.

Mourning Dove


This was a recent article in the New York Times about the accuracy of the recently upgraded app – “Merlin Bird ID” put out by Cornell University on the voice recognition portion of the app in correctly identifying  > 400 songbirds.


There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more. – Lord Byron

Miles Hearn

1 thought on “It’s a Duck but What Kind? August 2021

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Ha! I got it! I was a bit confused when it appeared as one of the birds you identified, but I got it!
    Great pictures. I’m a bit worried about the cat who’s discovered a bird seed rock. Worried for the birds, that is! Thanks, Miles!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *