Dead bird Quiz answer

5 03 2009
Long-tailed Duck female

Long-tailed Duck female

Yesterday’s mangled feather ball is a female Long-tailed Duck. Perhaps you are wondering how one might determine this. The first things to note are the dark wings with lighter brown scalloping over the mantle. Additionally, there are extensive white areas, which would be visible on the belly and flanks of the intact bird. And finally, the feet have a bluish tint, admittedly difficult to appreciate from this photo, but present nonetheless.

The Long-tailed Duck winters in large groups off Nantucket, yet it is a surprisingly uncommon find out on volunteer beaches.  SEANET finds this puzzling, and includes it on our ever lengthening list of questions raised as your beach walk data accrue over the years. Other ducks that commonly overwinter off Cape Cod and the islands turn up very frequently on SEANET beaches (Common Eiders and White-winged Scoters, for instance.)

An intact, non-mangled Long-tailed Duck. Note the white over the flanks and the brown scalloping over the back.

An intact, non-mangled Long-tailed Duck. Note the white over the flanks and the brown scalloping over the back.

We will continue to ponder this and other such earth-shattering questions as we begin to work more with all your excellent reports. And thanks for taking photos like this that make identification as straightforward as it can possibly be…given the circumstances!

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