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March 16, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Green-winged Teal

The cold air doesn’t want to leave, the sun has been hiding behind the clouds, and the marshes and ponds are still frozen. A group of Mallards were at the edge of marsh where it was beginning to thaw.

One of the lessons I’ve learned from experienced birders is to never assume a flock of birds is all one species. Hiding among them could be an unexpected surprise. When a bird finds itself separated from its flock it will sometimes join another flock of a similar species.

Mallard Ducks

A Green-winged Teal was mixed in with the Mallards. This is an uncommon bird to find in the Chicago area during the winter. We usually see them only during migration but this one has been sighted at the marsh all winter.

Green Teal

The Green-winged Teal breeds in Canada and spends winters in the southern and western US. It’s preferred habitats are marshes, ponds, and marshy lakes.

This is a beautiful little duck but it’s difficult to see the coloring in this shot. The ducks were pretty far out on the ice and showed no indication of coming closer to the humans. Plus it was freezing cold and I’m not as patient in the winter as I am in the summer when I’m waiting to get a good shot.

This is a fairly common duck in most of North America. It was an exciting find for me and the first time I’ve seen one. I’ll be going back to the marsh tomorrow to hopefully get some better photos before the duck decides to head north.
 


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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18 Comments

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  1. sagustocox / Mar 16 2013 9:15 am

    I love these shots. wonderful. I love when you get unexpected bird surprises.

    Like

  2. laurelrainsnow / Mar 16 2013 9:28 am

    As always, I enjoyed a peek into the world of birds; I learn something new every week!

    Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

    Like

  3. Christine Harding / Mar 16 2013 11:28 am

    What lovely photos – your posts are always so inspiring. My Snapshot is at http://goo.gl/U62WN

    Like

  4. Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf / Mar 16 2013 11:39 am

    Great pictures, both of them! I always look forward to your Weekend Birding pictures 🙂

    Here’s my SATURDAY SNAPSHOT post.

    Like

  5. Arti / Mar 16 2013 12:21 pm

    You’re so right… the saying “Birds of a feather, flock together” just may not be that accurate. I often see a mixed variety of water birds. I think we have the Green Winged Teal too, but rare and in the summer time. These are wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Leslie / Mar 16 2013 12:57 pm

      Sparrows are another species that often have mixed flocks. Groups of House Sparrows or Juncos will often have a less commonly seen sparrow, like a Fox, White-throat or Tree Sparrow traveling with them.

      Like

  6. irene / Mar 16 2013 1:05 pm

    I never knew that, but it’s very interesting to note that the other birds will allow a stray into the flock. Great shots Leslie, and wonderful info. Thanks. Not sure I’d be patient in the winter either.

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    • Leslie / Mar 16 2013 3:01 pm

      I was surprised by that too but now that I know to look for it, I see mixed flocks quite often.

      Like

  7. BermudaOnion / Mar 16 2013 1:35 pm

    Wow, is it still that cold there? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a duck like that.

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    • Leslie / Mar 16 2013 2:59 pm

      Yup, it’s freezing here. Today ice pellets were raining from the sky. And it’s going to stay freezing for at least another week. According the weather experts on the local news, a mass of cold air hovering over Greenland is blocking the warm air’s arrival from the south. 😦

      Like

  8. Janel / Mar 16 2013 3:26 pm

    What a cute duck! I love watching the ones that land in our pond during the spring. The diving ones are my favorite.

    Like

  9. Louise / Mar 16 2013 3:29 pm

    Sorry your weather is still a bit awful, but how exciting to see a new species! And such a beautiful one, nice that it was so distinct from the other ducks. I hope you (and we) get to see it again.

    Like

  10. Elizabeth / Mar 16 2013 6:12 pm

    Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    My Saturday Snapshot

    Like

  11. lmkazmierczak / Mar 16 2013 8:45 pm

    Interesting find and appreciate learning about the variety of water fowl♫ Hope you ck out my SS: http://lore-eleven.blogspot.com/2013/03/magic-hwy.html

    Like

  12. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Mar 16 2013 9:06 pm

    Fantastic info and photos as well.

    Like

  13. Jo Ann / Mar 17 2013 11:23 am

    I’m not that familiar with water and shorebirds because we don’t live near a large body of water. We have “mixed-specie” flocks that band together for winter foraging. Out an about in larger numbers like this means more eyes to watch for predators and certain species, like chickadees and titmice, are very adept at finding new food sources, which benefits the entire flock.

    Like

  14. Suko / Mar 17 2013 2:09 pm

    These photos are gorgeous as usual, Leslie.

    I hope spring weather arrives soon in your “neck of the woods”.

    Like

  15. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Mar 18 2013 8:43 pm

    That is so cool! It’s one of the birds I studied in marine biology in high school, but I haven’t seen one in person before.

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