I’ll admit it… you guys are good. Our ID quizzes have evolved over the years to contend with and challenge the arrogant (oh, did I say that?) perspicacity of our readers. Corey is so scared of you eagle-eyed armchair ornithologists that he’s been reduced to posting blurry plumage pics, which many of you still recognize.
But I’m not intimidated by your birding brilliance. As a matter of fact, I’m prepared to offer up a full-body, brightly-lit bird for your ID pleasure. In fact, this waterfowl is even facing the camera, which was held by reader Len Blumin. Len shared this pic with me to share with you. So tell me, what is it?
It’s not diabolical or tricky, it is impossible, or can you tell with which Goldeneye species the Hoody – you know – had a midnight talk?
HM X Barrow’s G’eye?
I agree with tai and Jochen. I got to HM X Goldeneye from the photo (before reading the comments) but didn’t really consider which Goldeneye but the angle of the head looks better IMO for Barrow’s.
Immediately thought of Hooded Merganser, and Barrows Goldeney. The more I think about it, the more uncertain I become, though its clearly got some sort of Goldeneye in it.
I’ll stick with my initial id.
It seems like a Barrow’s Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser hybrid to me
Give yourselves a round of applause. This bird is a Hooded Merganser x Barrow’s Goldeneye hybrid found in Oakland at the outflow channel of Lake Merritt.
Len mentioned that this duck was spotted as a juvenile in spring 2004 by a friend and has returned every year since to the Lake Merritt outflow, where it associates with Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, displaying (some say)in vain to Barrow’s females.
Next time, I’m just going to show the bird’s tail or something equally inscrutable. Allowing you to interpret the angle of the head made the challenge too easy!