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A head. Just a head. That’s all we’ve got to go on this month, other than the fact that the head is, presumably, perched on top of a body that is in the water. In fact, looking carefully, we can see some of the white body between sets of bubbles. This head is white with some black somewhere in the rear, possibly on or behind the auriculars. There is also some suggestion of gray smudginess below the eye, but that might be a photographic artifact. The bird’s left eye gives me a suggestion of redness, and enlarging the photo confirms that, which should be helpful, as there aren’t that many red-eyed waterbirds. The wide bill is bicolored – black with a pinkish saddle.
Assuming that this is not some landbird in desperate straits, we can wander around in the front half of the field guide looking for white-headed, red-eyed waterbirds, but the fact that the bird’s bill is wider than deep should send us straight to the waterfowl. Once there, the bird’s white head, reddish eyes, white belly, and pink-saddled bill leave us a single option. In fact, that last feature – the pink saddle – would have taken us directly to the correct answer.
I took this picture of the head of an adult male Long-tailed Duck at Avalon, Cape May Co., NJ, on 17 January 2011.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March Bird Photo Quiz—Long-tailed Duck:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.