This probably happens to most of us in the outdoors at some time or another: We rig our lines for largemouth bass and end up hooking into a musky. Maybe we go looking for a peregrine falcon that has …
This probably happens to most of us in the outdoors at some time or another: We rig our lines for largemouth bass and end up hooking into a musky. Maybe we go looking for a peregrine falcon that has been reported in a particular area; we don’t see the falcon, but we run into a snowy owl in the same field that the peregrine was supposed to be.
That’s what happened when I took a friend to look for eagles in the Mongaup area recently. He had never been there, and the eagle sightings have been pretty good over the course of the winter. We did see a lot of eagles that day, but we also saw a lot of other different species of birds. Among the variety of birds were several species of waterfowl, and they provided some entertainment when the eagles weren’t flying.
Winter is a good time to find species of waterfowl that you wouldn’t see during the rest of the year because, like the eagles, they come down from the north in order to find un-frozen waterways in order to forage. In this way, eagles and waterfowl are sharing the same habitat over the course of the winter. Like eagles, frozen waterways have the effect of concentrating waterfowl to the ice-free areas such as river confluences and other areas where faster flow prevents ice formation. Because of this, it is frequently easier to get closer to waterfowl especially from a blind or a parked car used as a blind.
Some of the species of ducks seen were year-round residents, but others, such as the common goldeneye, were among the winter migrants that come down from the north. Some year-round species are uncommonly seen during the summer but are seen in open water areas during the winter due to accessibility to forage. We still have a month or so before some of these species start moving, so grab your binoculars and field guide and find out why this winter has been so ducky!