|Male Ruddy Duck -- James Island, SC -- November 25, 2012|
Today, Sunday November 25, 2012, I saw my FIRST EVER Ruddy Duck? No, better than that! I saw my first ever BLUE-BILLED RUDDY DUCK -- in my neighborhood pond! As a birder who first learned of this duck on a Christmas Bird Count, I had not known that the male of this species had a blue bill in breeding plumage. I learned that later after studying the bird guides a bit more seriously. I never really expected to see a blue-billed Ruddy Duck here in SC since they breed in the western half of the United States, Mexico, Cuba and even Europe -- but not here! They simply winter here in the eastern half of the United States.
|Male Blue-billed Ruddy Duck -- James Island, SC -- November 25, 2012|
I was out for a vigorous walk without the camera when I spotted him. I immediately returned to the house for the camera and for Carl. What a great find! He was the only Ruddy Duck on the pond among the Mallards, Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks. I wonder how long he will stay. Since I began birding, he represents the first observed Ruddy Duck for our neighborhood.
During the winter months, we normally see a dark, slaty-colored bill on male and female Ruddy Ducks here in SC, such as in the photo below.
|Ruddy Ducks -- Bear Island WMA, SC -- March 6, 2010|
What a great find this was for my last day of a fabulous Thanksgiving and Birding weekend! I will be back to work tomorrow but I will be thinking about my next blog post about this Thanksgiving break spent with family and spent birding in Florida! We have interesting numbers to share so stay tuned!
Brua, Robert B. 2002. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/696