My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis

In North America, it is sometimes called Oldsquaw, though this name has fallen out of favor under influence of negative connotations of the word squaw in English usage.

Adults have white underparts, though the rest of the plumage goes through a complex molting process. The male has a long pointed tail (10 to 15 cm) and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band. In winter, the male has a dark cheek patch on a mainly white head and neck, a dark breast and mostly white body. In summer, the male is dark on the head, neck and back with a white cheek patch. The female has a brown back and a relatively short pointed tail. In winter, the female’s head and neck are white with a dark crown. In summer, the head is dark. Juveniles resemble adult females in autumn plumage, though with a lighter, less distinct cheek patch.

Their breeding habitat is in tundra pools and marshes, but also along sea coasts and in large mountain lakes in the North Atlantic region, Alaska, northern Canada, northern Europe and Russia. The nest is located on the ground near water; it is built using vegetation and lined with down. They are migratory and winter along the eastern and western coasts of North America, on the Great Lakes, coastal northern Europe and Asia, with stragglers to the Black Sea. The most important wintering area is the Baltic Sea, where a total of about 4.5 million gather.

The Long-tailed Duck is gregarious, forming large flocks in winter and during migration. They feed by diving for mollusks, crustaceans and some small fish. Although they usually feed close to the surface, they are capable of diving to depths of 60m (200 feet).

On to the photos.

Male long-tailed duck

Male long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Female Long-tailed duck

Male Long-tailed duck preparing to dive

Male Long-tailed duck preparing to dive

Male Long-tailed duck diving

Male Long-tailed duck diving

 

This is number 36 in my photo life list, only 314 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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11 responses

  1. OMG the male almost looks like a skunk!

    February 21, 2013 at 3:19 am

    • In a way, but they have dreamy eyes. LOL

      February 21, 2013 at 3:20 am

  2. I’ve never seen this one. The male is a pretty bird. And what a diver!

    February 21, 2013 at 6:13 am

    • There’s a chance that the weather may be nice for one day this weekend, if that holds, I’m going back for better photos of these. That, and the several species I missed, and to top it off, the flocks of eagles forming up in the area. There were 18 eagles on the ice as I drove past one of the smaller lakes on my way home from this trip. I would have stopped, but then I would have been late for work.

      February 21, 2013 at 9:29 am

      • I hope you get a nice day! I think all the snow is going to be over us.

        February 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm

  3. A beautiful duck, great sighting! I lived on Beaver Island for 10 years, in that time only saw them once, and at a distance. They seemed to stay just ahead of the edge of frozen water. Their call is soft, haunting and unforgettable. Thank you!

    February 21, 2013 at 10:08 am

    • Thanks for the comment! This is another bird making a remarkable comeback as far as numbers. Some one who I was talking to that participates in bird counts told me he had counted over 10,000 one day this winter, but his best was last year, over 17,000 long-tailed ducks migrating south. Hard to believe that they were rare just a few decades ago.

      February 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

      • Good to hear… this was back in the 90’s when I saw them, in open water far from shore.

        February 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

  4. It’s duck week ! Woo Hoo !! I love ducks, and never knew there were so many different ones until I started birding this past year. Great captures.

    February 22, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    • Thanks, I was going to go back to Muskegon for another weeks worth of ducks, but the weather is forecast to be as bad as on the day I shot most of these ducks. I’ll hold off for better lighting, then you’ll see some ducks! I’ll even shoot a few butt shots for you. 😉

      February 23, 2013 at 2:19 am

  5. Pingback: Another trip to the Muskegon area, 2 SD cards filled Part II | Quiet Solo Pursuits