Tag Archives: Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck, October 28, 2020

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)

A female Long-tailed Duck has been hanging around the fishing pier at Montrose for the last few days. On October 28 I saw her near the end of the pier on the Lake Michigan side. Long-tailed Ducks are uncommon but regular late fall through early spring visitors to Montrose.

October 28 was an interesting day with a nice mix of birds. I ended up with 49 species for about 2 hours of effort, and 60 species were reported to eBird for the day. Some of my highlights include

White-winged Scoter – 1
Dunlin – 2
Greater Yellowlegs – 1
Bonaparte’s Gull – 6
Great Egret – 1, getting late
Gray Catbird – 1, getting late
Snow Bunting – 3
Vesper Sparrow – 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 1, getting late

Link to my eBird checklist for October 28 below, which includes more photos of the Long-tailed Duck and a few other birds.

eBird Checklist
October 28, 2020

Ducks (lots of ’em), March 20, 2020

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers (click to see the larger version)

A strong flight of ducks took place at Montrose on March 20. In about an hour and a half of lakewatching I saw the following

Wood Duck – 30
Blue-winged Teal – 6
Northern Shoveler – 200
Gadwall – 15
American Wigeon – 8
Northern Pintail – 15
Green-winged Teal – 120
Ring-necked Duck – 40
Greater Scaup – 15
Lesser Scaup – 100
White-winged Scoter – 2
Long-tailed Duck – 1, continuing female in the harbor
Bufflehead – 10
Common Goldeneye – 20
Hooded Merganser – 8
Common Merganser – 3
Red-breasted Merganser – 200

We usually get a day or 2 each spring when large numbers of ducks move north like this. The numbers of Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teal were most impressive. Interestingly, the winds were from the north and strong, which means these birds were flying into a headwind. I also had 2 flyby Common Loons, my first of the year.

In the above photo, note the spoon-shaped bills of the Northern Shovelers, a field mark that makes them easy to identify, even in flight.

eBird Checklist
March 20, 2020

Another Long-tailed Duck, February 24, 2020

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)

Two female Long-tailed Ducks have been frequenting Montrose Harbor, a darker, probably immature bird, and this whiter headed individual. The darker bird hasn’t been seen in a while but the pale Long-tailed was still around on February 24.

On a side note, I grew up calling this species Oldsquaw; it took some time and effort to get used to calling it Long-tailed Duck.

Long-tailed Duck, February 11, 2020

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)

A Long-tailed Duck was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful morning on February 11. It was in a small area of water being kept open by an aerator on the north side of the harbor. Long-tailed Ducks are usually offshore birds on Lake Michigan so when I see a bird like this so close to shore I wonder if it’s sick or injured.

Long-tailed Ducks are highly variable in appearance. Adult males in winter are a striking mix of gray, black, and white. At the other end of the spectrum are immature females which are mostly dark. Based on the dark color, and especially the dark crown, this bird is probably an immature female.

Spring can’t come soon enough.

eBird Checklist
February 11, 2020

Long-tailed Duck (deceased), April 3, 2019

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)

What nature giveth, nature also taketh away. Seeing a dead bird is always sad. Seeing a dead bird as beautiful as a male Long-tailed Duck is poignant. This deceased Long-tailed Duck was on Montrose Beach on April 3. The bird was alive (but apparently not well) the day before but for unknown reasons didn’t survive. The specimen will go to the Field Museum where it will be available to scientists and others to study. Long-tailed Ducks are regular visitors to Lake Michigan during the colder months of the year.

White-winged and Black Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks, March 17, 2019

Today was a good day to look at Lake Michigan – overcast skies, a flat surface, and excellent visibility most of the way to the horizon, perfect conditions for looking for birds on the water. While scanning the lake I found several groups of White-winged Scoters, a female Black Scoter, and 4 Long-tailed Ducks. The White-winged Scoters (~20) were scattered in small flocks 1/5 to 1/4 mile offshore from the fishing pier. With one of these flocks was a female Black Scoter, a good bird for Montrose in the spring. Finally, I saw a group of Long-tailed Ducks flying south far offshore. These birds landed eventually but disappeared because of distance. Also of note were about a dozen Double-crested Cormorants on the water crib a couple of miles offshore from Montrose, the beginnings of the nesting colony. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S53931628