Friday, February 13, 2009

Green-Wood waterfowl

A couple of days above freezing temperatures has opened a large hole in the ice at the Sylvan Waters. An amazing diversity of waterfowl has appeared in Green-Wood Cemetery's largest pond.

What had been dominated by Mallards and Canada Goose was now bustling with 10 species of water birds; Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon (74), American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser and Pied-billed Grebe.

One nice surprise was the appearance of a Eurasian Wigeon. The brightly colored duck was sleeping on the man-made island in the center of the pond. Also surprising was the abundance of American Wigeons; 74 total. The irresistible pull of longer daylight hours and a distant beckoning call of Springtime had two birds hypnotized. A male Hooded Merganser and Ring-necked Duck were performing courtship displays to nobody in particular, especially since there were no other individuals of their species present. The lonely Pied-billed Grebe who overwintered in the tiny pond has yet to develop the dark chin and ringed bill of a breeding grebe. If he sticks around, it will be interesting to compare the photos as his plumage changes.

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